Last days of Ishmael
[ poetry - november 06 ]
Above the harbour, a hill house,
its coat of cracked paint
binding wet-rot in a frame - outside the window,
a square of sky scrubbed blue - in a room
minded of winter he reads a little, on the table
a book of sea tales, shipwreck, the old routines.
Again, memory, considering nature
where it rose, and the time begun
to come to that business,
it was not, it is not, just one time, useful honestly.
It asks, it increases, recognising itself,
pulling oceans with it, above other lives
less deserving of memory.
At the open door, leaves the colour
of November leap as the wind wills, a jig
of jammy rinds along the porch planks.
Below, the town’s deserted quays - the ships
gone now, and fewer too those others
boiled down for lamplight
...that day, a grime in the mouths
of pagan stokers, the scald-pot seas
red as a cut heart, that day... a shadow
spooling fathoms, surfacing through iron spears,
its white flukes trimmed to sounding cold
for Ahab: his last breath... salt, salt, swallowed
deep enough to make a ghost.