At Sea

by James Como (January 2019)

Nine Daughters of Ægir, Nils Blommér, 1850
 
 
 
Now too late for Mass in Lucca
(as we mark north to Livorno), I
incline over the railing, wind-whipped,
pulled by the roil of fatality from a wine-dark sea.
I –
nine appear
nine appear
like alabaster, wafting,
or wanting to frolick.
 
So close that we might touch,
the largest eye-to-eye,
unfurled, perfect and still,
though surely racing to keep pace:
with a planet lurching about our star
and with me,
            freeborn and forlorn.
            forlorn yet freeborn. 
 
Probing?  I cannot say.
Delighting in her own implacability.  
 
And so had I a bow I do know:
and so had I a bow I do know
I would do murder but for some mariner’s curse.
(Who among us has never wayfared so?)
 
Then, frightened, I fall –
no.  It is she who rises
abruptly, the others (their work done?)
dropping into abiding mist.
 
At once I wish them back,
to see how it is they haunt:
memories riding streams of unrelenting time. 
 
Or:
they are someone else, nursing. 
So, thankful, I repent.

 

 


_________________________________
James Como is the author, most recently, of The Tongue is Also a Fire: Essays on Conversation, Rhetoric and the Transmission of Culture . . . and on C. S. Lewis (New English Review Press, 2015). His forthcoming book, from the Oxford University Press, is C.S. Lewis: A Very Short Introduction.



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