At Land's End
'The future is a grey seagull
tattling in its cat-voice of departure.'
- Sylvia Plath
The grey-green abyss looks placid
In its stark rendition of loneliness.
It harbors creatures below the dim surface
With its pale streams of white light.
Are you down there, precious All-knowing?
The smell is heavy salt and brackish awareness;
It truly drowns the olfactory avoidance of it.
And it is in my mouth, too,
I can taste its chemical-laced brine, its metallics
As I become one with its shiny edge.
A blinding light reflects itself randomly at my eyes
As if to say, ‘You cannot predict my whims,
I take orders from The Sun itself.’
A barge creeps along in the distance,
A giant block of slow progress.
This is Winthrop, and it is its own island.
Gull-cry screeches its existence
And wind whips it clean of impermanents
And dead dry brush.
The splintered pier-wood is weather beaten,
Its knot-holes emerging like coronas of catastrophe
Falling into jagged, asymmetrical formation.
Boards creak below and under ---
That glinting admonishing of Winter’s approach.
Seaweed hangs cemented like glossy hair,
Almost plastic and green-black like death
From your barnacled rocks underneath.
The tide-line is visible, your bald-caps are
Polished clean in permanent exposure.
There is little motion among them,
But all certain something lives down there ---
Under that low-tide fringe where water eddies around rocks
Emerging at each wave-trough.
You are primordial and I feel myself becoming
A slinking survivor of your endless highs and lows
Which continue on until the world around you
No longer resembles your frank simplicity.
As your sand is beige from afar,
Upon closer view it is littered with a
Detritus of seas ---
Great concrete submerged empires were
Crushed under your weight.
How they are compressed into mineral
Minutae that flow as the water for eternity.
And I am here, look at me ---
No father, no mother, just this
Oil-slicked sea crashing in waves
On a flotsam-strewn beach.
The remnants sit in a neat row
Conglomerated at the high-tide line.
Perhaps I shall crawl under a rock to my return,
And hear no more the cries of humanity.
To hear the soft hushing of infinite grains of sand
To become a grain of sand, no longer I.
The wind picks up whitecaps blurring the blue horizon-line.
A sulphur wind blows ashore,
That impregnable tenancy, commercial and calm.
A plane roars above ---
A World’s Hopes' flight of fancy.
I stand within a snapshot of a place
Weathered by progress and time,
In this, my early home ---
An ecology of fast-forward in a world of
Slow-moving scuttling invertebrates;
Their slime-trails a story of a life spent plodding
Along rocks that move involuntarily at the Sea’s whim.
No longer needed they reek of contamination,
Fog-horns blow their story aloft.
Mussels cling for dear life in the swaying tide,
Those bivalves which cannot evolve,
They drink the alkaline tide-mirth
Eyeless, earless, drowning in the unbeknownst.
The muck and tar is around them like a new friend
Replacing a nonexistent, old one
Lapping at their lintels, ensuring its permanence,
The mussels are inedible now
In this industrious danger-zone
Drums spewing toxicity beaten by the rhythmic surf
Under some blue-green crest,
Some muddied rivers edge.
And all the rivers end here in progressive tenacity.
They empty into a paradise lost
As even their flanking mills sit empty,
Their bandits long gone, forgotten.
But the wind is sharp and biting, stinging in its mendacity,
Its unrecollection of what used to be.
I feel it blow through me and I sway with it, in it
And I, too am swept up in the tide.
I am no rock, and the sea cannot move me,
I can choose to leave ---
I am a seagull perched on stilts drinking salinity.
Or a marsh rat running for deep cover in the straws
Away from the onshore impermanence of life
I walk in this former home and part of me never left;
I feel my remains here as if I am the water table
Sunk too low to greet what vibrancy blooms onshore.
I am inimical as the fiddler crabs
Waving their eerie solitudes into their sacrosanct burrows
Only to be engulfed by the murky tideswell.
They go unrattled, unshaken
Even poetry cannot do them justice,
Those hermits in their enclosures, hearts unneeded,
Their grey-matter gels in its shellacked shells
And they make it through another winter,
Somehow, some way they are reborn each year.
But I, surely will never leave this place completely.
The jetfuels will be my rescinded fallout
And I will sink even deeper into those progresses.
And my Winters will glitter in icy gratitudes
How grateful am I, how gaunt.
I watch as the sands filter past the deadwoods
As they are pushed onshore slowly, rhythmically.
I breathe in a miracles’ salted veracities
Of a time long-forgotten, or long remembered
By a sea which never forgets
Past that rock out there, indelible edifice.
The sea holds its grudges; it will throw
Our debris back at us,
Hurl it onto our lawns, our walkways
As its smallest inhabitants rise and fall in servitude
As they dream in eerie equilibriums
Whilst our imbalances jilt us awake.
The rocks are too slippery to traverse on foot,
The sea keeps them bare for it smallest inhabitants
Here, where I begin and end,
Here At Land’s End,
Where the periwinkles crawl.