Sport 35: Winter 2007
At night, inland dirt under my fingernails, red
like distant volcanoes, the singing of constant winds.
The shop lit up at night, shelves painted red.
His voice sing-song, like he's chanting the price
of a hundred stocks, one after the other.
The limestone road an octave of noisy puddles.
Church lights in the low cloud, trees heavy
with mosquitoes, languid along the lingering road.
His gold chain the marriage of light and flesh.
Night-time at the store, talking in low voices.
They collect their children, travel homewards,
scooters now plastered with red soil.
Singing and muscle. All that remains.
Guess at the planting of trees abrupt against the night,
all the known stars blanked out. Think, too,
of the red light inside and the weakness of flesh.
An augury of knives, and the rain constantly dripping.
Those travelling the back roads remain vigilant.
In the dark uncertain about dawn, gentleness
leaking out, as if daylight was practising
and not totally committed to the solid start of day.
The reef-water still and black about itself.
Where the boats go at dawn, to sea, holding beyond
the breakers, black as outline, as complete object.
At this hour the boats emerge, outrigger canoes,
aluminium dinghies with engines, all heading out.
The minutiae of boats, their lack of panic, the pitching
of boats whether it is dark or not, and whether
returning or not. The story that boats will come
and unload their cargo, and the myth of that cargo.
All the telling of it, the almost listening, the assurance
that boats will bear it, or have the last word.
The gaudy lightness of a cruise liner before dawn
lining the horizon with sparklers and parties,
white shirts and caps on its bridge and the electronic
exactness of position. The memory only of position.
Cargo of the mind, telling of ripples across oceans,
fishing up a beginning, a middle, but world without end.
The mackerel grounds where boys dive at evening,
baiting for tuna tomorrow morning, generations
of fishermen at that spot each day, the same generations
of tuna interrupted and hauled in silver suits.
At all hours the talking sea, the intervals at which
the horizon is disrupted or, more usually, a lone craft
is riding the single rail at the edge of known things
to where the lookout gives his certain all-clear.
A large fort on a hill needs
to find its way among boulders
and the green shrubs that thrive in sand.
Out of the reach of yellow stone
colour is persistent, but there are touches
of white in the flag, a half-life.
Battlements fall from the edge of
the frame, suddenly bashful, embarrassed
at having to seek directions.
An impression of curves.
Round turrets slide into verticals like
a knife, these wells that plumb
the absolute earth to drink
at stone walls and arches, doors without
glass, small flourishes in the face of God.
There's direction, sure enough.
High ceilings, light allowed to play
on tiled floors, but only small inlays.
Yellow it is. Fly whisks, an oil lamp,
heavy wooden furniture bound in iron,
walls stepped into the infinity of roof.
Each afternoon mosaics glow
at the hour of sleeping
when the fountains are restrained.
Birds then are quiet, and it is assumed
that flowers stop blooming, maybe
in deference to those who weep.