Letter to Erin from Gore Bay at the End of August
Forgetfulness has power,
And death does its work,
Only in desire,
Not in time.
--Yves Bonnefoy, “Let This World Endure”
The compact silence of stones when shadows
of beach grass flicker across them in the wind ---
if I note these things, will they weigh
more real for you, or for a longer time?
A small boat on the water, and someone wears a red shirt.
When wind comes in from the lake,
voices blow toward me, a gruff stumble of
drunken singing, at ease, I think, in the lightly
floating pod of a self, and a quieter voice,
steadily urging some caution that I can’t make out.
Which speaker wears red? Small waves
shush and retreat, a milky sheen on their backs,
opal more than milk, as the late sun slants low,
honed edges folding into themselves.
I have waded out past the slippery rocks
and swam with gulls floating nearby --
now I listen by the waves, shirtless, beginning
to shiver in the first late-summer chill,
glad for the blanket around my shoulders,
the promise of warm sleep rising in me like water,
and soon a drive in darkness from this island
back to you, lifting sheets to lie by your body.
Twilight thickens to hide the mind that desires these things,
as if we began at dawn by remembering the relinquished earth,
and I have landed here, finally,
to watch it disassemble again
and tatter down around me, as always on such evenings.
We desire that the world endure, last,
knowing in advance that all will be lost,
but leaning to the voices from the drifting boat,
wanting the gull pecking at the edge of the water,
the black cormorant tacking farther from shore,
the earthy smell of weed cover that could almost
be sweetgrass but is not.