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Experiment 5

To A Woman On The Inter-Island Ferry

page 21

To A Woman On The Inter-Island Ferry

"What loneliness disputes in you, what once could have been, was not, may be or will are simpler than we name"

Kendrick Smithyman

I cannot ever know you now; the stranger,
completed gestures telling what you are
can never be my knowledge. Yet I am
longing, perhaps like you, for another star
to find me a new Bethlehem. I wonder
what urgent innocence cut deep those lines
so out of consonance with your soft-vowelled mouth.
I see in your quietude how time refines
the anger and hysteria of youth.

Yours is the face of life. Your high cheek bones
(was it your tears eroded them?) are landscape
of private country, but the exploring thoughts,
which would have much to tell, cannot escape
the prison of your eyes; there, in your fortune,
is caught the beauty of all our worlds, each death.
What could my hands have said had I been there to
still your suffering, what words have touched my breath?

None. Nothing. I love my feeling of your loss
and loneliness far more than your dark head
bent towards your son in tenderness. For you wish
(I know) the world you carry to be fed with
love from foreign shores. Each in his country
landlocked, dreams of an incoming sea that reaches
inlet and crevice everywhere, of a coast
where the long, sure wave of love washes.

End piece by Barbara Moffat and Ross O'Rourke