Sport 34: Winter 2006
Pictures of the floating world
Its wooden legs crack through the ice-capped snow
and are anchored so the monster's eye
is where your eye fringed with ice finds its eyepiece.
The light, you say, the dark, blue light.
The ship lists and cracks,
its masts long shadows.
The shrouds hang heavy with ice
making the yards live.
So little light, the plates must be exposed
while the heart beats blindly on.
The silver slowly changes
on the glass taking on the black
of waiting while the inevitable
The beating heart lies moving and unmoved.
Its chambers synchronously flex; relax;
and, like a rose, pulse the arteries
so simply as to be profound.
The image of Christ
being in symmetry
the heart remains eccentric
just beneath the lifting ribs.
Its delicate and rosy caves,
living rooms without a view,
beat each in turn, in turn,
to what end is also theirs,
the blue translucent waste.
The heart's valves flutter
like bull kelp before
the rush and push of waves
in a black rock vein
and the blue glacier groans,
down the riven side
pulling and pushing.
As the iceflow cracks,
the orcas blow steam into the dark,
the ice creaks and crunches,
the men jump back into their boats,
their freezing hands pull at the oars
before all becomes too late.
All the long haze through
the beaters tread the ripe grass down.
Another pheasant whirs into the valley
and the punctuating clamour of shots.
The gentlemen send their dogs off
to the fallen bird. The bird, wounded and dying,
stumbles through the long grass briefly.
One dog returns to its master with the body.
But where has Diana been all day?
She was not there at dawn when we assembled.
She promised, she promised.
Queen and huntress, nestled into the arched back
of your favourite ride, who so list to hunt,
I know where is an hind.
His scalpel gently slices open the atrium
to access its recesses and preview
scenes stolen from a life while the heart was still.
What were you thinking of, Actaeon?
Then he must stitch with the tiniest stitches,
the delicate fabric of the heart,
the forest, les baigneuses,
as on the brocade of another of your dresses,
queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
a fair thought in a green shade,
dappled green by the water's edge.
The dogs tug ceaselessly at the sled
carrying the quarry that has just been shot
then tear at the carcass strung out on their lines in the ice.
What God drapes shadow round my feet?
What question hangs about my neck?
No echoes answer from the rocks
where Actaeon fled.
My handmaids all have bathed
and so have I. We will have no more
observance being observed
since Actaeon fled.
Yet, father Zeus, I pray to you,
lay offerings before you of what
I killed today. The best flesh from the loin
I burn upon your altar and ask
what question hangs about my neck,
what God drapes shadow round my feet?
The goddess has died.
She has become a lake isle where
the green pikes of crocus pierce
snow crusts of the sun god.
Snowdrops droop under a weight of white.
Stylosae open their ice blue flowers.
Jonquils light up for her for whom
votaries carrying offerings come.
Her hounds hounded him through the olive trees
over the stony slopes where each step he
crushed thyme or sage.
Foam flecked his sides.
He clashed higher over the loose stone until he stood
up by the snow on Olympus.
A tiny mezzo is singing o mio babbino caro
far below on the stage. Into this great
amphitheatre in Ephesus
it rises like ice in the midday heat.
Further up the hill the silversmiths make images of you,
mia cara Diana. How could they not,
daughter of Zeus, with your temple
like a sunken polo field nearby?
The chauffeur drove you
from a silent back door
to the country and the home of the hunter
where you sighed and drank
and left him your body
for what ails you both.