A superstitious day, the last storm still
battering up the coast. A cormorant silhouettes
the line of surf, an arrow to the heart.
Out in the bay the great ships heave and sinew,
chained by a bull-ringed capstan. The sea
swells from the north-west catching
the port quarter to roll awkwardly,
twisting and plunging her head
into the backing southerly, and the crew waits
pilot and tugs to lead her
to the still waters of the basin.
This in the pen’s imagination, each word
an arrow uncertain of its meaning,
peers from the page a frightened lamb
born on a cold night in the desert air.
Barbed wire rusts in the mist,
drying in the wind.
Spider webs jewelled in dew diamonds
Friday then, fish and faith,
the fishermen and the fishers of men.
The sea, its fathoms and cables,
parallel rule, dividers, compass rose,
the binnacle of brass, the lifting deck.
The ease and happiness of the soul
found again in the loneliness.
13 June 2008
The sea has risen to the wind
from its beds and deeps.
It rolls before the north-wester
on shoulders of rain and squall,
muscling in from the island,
crouched in its collar,
to reefs of Malmesbury shale
here these six hundred million years,
charges into the valley of death
left and right. It is a grand poem
of heroes, foolhardy but performed
each winter of its seasoning
steeped in form and remembering,
repeating lines and rhythms,
and broken men. Yet there is no fear
I do not provide in visions
of drowning kelp, reaching for air
in rain and foam, still alive,
gesturing ashore where I watch
with Ted’s dented eyeballs
and the black-backed gull bending
like an iron bar. And twa corbies
thinking theft in dark snow
where rabbits scutter
in meadows and memories. But here,
now, a Southern Right intersects
the weather and blows knowing nothing
of my dark eye and thoughts
that drive this pen.
11 June 2008
- Hugh Hodge lives in Cape Town, Western Cape , South Africa