Poetry | January 01, 1988

Walking past a boatyard full of cradled sloops

last night, I thought of you. Yellow portholes

yielded the shoulders of somebody doing delicate

work, floating perhaps, above a coast he hopes

he will explore, or stilting his compass across

the pale deeps. Three just-varnished blocks

beaded a rope across the cockpit. In the flat

surrounding fields, luminous local vegetables

hide beneath dark leaves, and on the pier at

evening, thousands of red-needled sea urchins,

swung from a trawler’s hold, pour loudly

into a truck. But the stolid, mumbling, upwind

flight of the blimp each morning most brings

you to mind – outward bound for Nadorp,

Iles des Sourds, Mangiare. Most of your countries

had just achieved independence, or had steadily

reclaimed themselves from cold ocean and sky.

They linger at the margins of our maps.

Cancelled on yellowed envelopes, or fixed

like stars to black collector sheets, tinctured

in the watercolor you said could not be labored,

their stamps commemorate our love of minor

beauties, perishable things. In the full panes

of your exotic issues, made of tiny, certain strokes

and pastel fogs, I recognize myself, the boy

who wanted everything arrayed, passed through

imagination’s tender lens, orderly as the leaded

green and mustard meadows tilting on a wingtip,

where long archipelagos of shadows slowly drift.

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