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Sport 42: 2014

In the Library with Darwin’s Red Notebook

In the Library with Darwin’s Red Notebook

Six floors up the windows show signs of smeary contact,
salty particles like prickly kisses blown up from the harbour
from a seafarer’s bearded lips while, open on the table,
ocean-stained pages of your notebook drift,

penciled lines, smudgy in places, your handwriting untidy,
at times unclear. I make out inosculation with a single line
through it, representation added above, but what word is that,
starting with s? You underlined gradual with a firm stroke,

scored across another word until it was unreadable. And so we go
on, you retreating as I advance over pebbles, beached somewhere
you do not name, in the air a tang of distance and discovery
spiked with your unwillingness to doubt your own eyes.

Upon closing the book I see, scrawled across the back cover
in your hand, in brown ink: nothing for any purpose. As if,
despite your growing understanding, your final impulse
was to camouflage these shipboard findings.