The sea [poem] by Douglas K. Currier

By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:

“I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;
That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;
There are only the various envies, all of them sad.”

from “In Praise of Limestone” by W.H. Auden

 

We are defined by the voices to which we listen;
Even in land-locked states—the mountains, valleys,
Small lakes, and the thin, noisy thawing of rivers.
We listen for a voice with some set purpose,
With the conviction of the old, the credible faith
Of the white-haired grandfather, scratching whiskers
On the porch, a penknife whittling his long life
To a point, or wood shavings of a consistency,
Silenced by the porch, the geraniums, the wicker
By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:

“I am all that you don’t know, perfect indifference.
I am a stranger’s face in the bathroom mirror.
I am the vacant, dead eyes of your brother
Lying in the brown dry stubble of late autumn.
What you want to know, I will not tell you.
I am your one true love—a woman drops clothing
As if you are chair, table, mirror, shuttered window.
I am your ignorance, your fear, your small-town
Ego. I am your despair, your fear, your self-loathing.
“I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;

I can give you to yourself, another small, minute
Organism among the multitudes that die without
Complaint. I can give you sun, salt, sea birds,
Water useless to you, muscle and work. I can
Give you the ways of rope, the windlass, the cables,
The manifold, the oil, bandana and work glove.
I can give you weather and horizon, the sound
Of waves on hull, the throb of engines, the roll,
Pitch, night breezes, the water’s push and shove.
That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;

There is tawdry sex—a simple, quick grappling.
There is longing. There is need. There is the fantasy
Of woman—a smell and taste and touch created
Between casting off and tying up, between stowing
The lines and preparing the manifold, between each
Crest—the brief troughs of wind and waves clad
Only in supine imagination on a threadbare mattress
In the back room of a hot and sleepy afternoon bar.
There are the hours of waiting that make men mad.
There are only the various envies, all of them sad.”

 

Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: this poem put the editors in mind of the poem “For the Swan at White Rock” by Robin Turner.]

Douglas K Currier holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. He writes poetry and fiction in both Spanish and English and has published in various countries. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.

Image by Randen Pederson