High tide and so much water in the heart
of the town; perhaps the sea’s wish
to drown the steeples and wash
through attics and tree tops has been heard
see, how it surges upstream straining again
to dislodge the boat wreck by the pier—
but it’s grown roots into the ground and won’t stir—
how it floods inland striving in vain
to reverse the river’s course
beyond the third stone bridge, floods uphill
against all reason causing the little spillways
and sluice gates to slosh into canals
and wash over nets and lobster traps,
piled up on the wet mole.
Perhaps someone forgot to turn off taps
and faucets in a distant watery locale,
but that reservoir, too, will run dry,
and eventually, feeling a little blue
and bethinking itself, the tide will withdraw
and carry all the small fry with it out to sea.
No sign of anyone; it’s still early,
just seven, although this 18th of June,
promises to become ‘a scorcher of a day’
after weeks and weeks of rain,
the grass on the swamp’s just barely
grazed by a maritime breath,
the sun, having mopped up every shred
of cloud and haze on its dawn crusade
makes such a hue and cry above the chimneys,
it alerts the entire world to the joys
of enlightenment, but hoteliers
and undertakers and notaries
in their blind-darkened rooms
squirm away from its dazzling tirade:
one is painting his house blue in a dream,
another’s just lost a stack in real estate.
Isn’t this morning overdoing it slightly,
so picture-book eager, larger-than-life, freshly
scrubbed and painted, spilling over
with newness and colour like a first primer?
Still no-one up yet? Yes, a blue-finned car
noses down Sea Road to the church on the pier,
two young policemen in navy regalia
disembark and march up to the door.
They have left the motor idling over.
Will they confess to some dark felony,
I wonder, or arrest the priest? Their demeanour—
solemn, expectant—gives nothing away.
Further down river, perfectly drilled
like a battalion of angels at reveille,
eighty, a hundred swans lift their heads
and unruffled and leisurely
glide to the sea wall towards me
in one fluid concerted motion,
eight cygnets in their cinnamon-
mottled plumage among them;
Such a welcome, mute but eloquent;
the birds—not without courtesy—gaze
at me for a heart-stopping second
then veer off slowly on the current.
All salute me today: the million bands
of ripples hardened on the sands,
the clear and saurian-green swell,
sea wrack melting into it like caramel,
benches lined up to face the sea
like dreamy pensioners—WET PAINT signs
on seats bespattered with last night’s rains
warning no-one in particular—happy but empty
and the little waves that gurgle and sob
beneath piled-up breakwater rocks
and sing like children scared of the dark
glad to be released into this arch
of light that encircles sea and sky.
And now the world is in full swing.
Three boys crossing the swamp hold a thing
the colour of flame—a kite they’re about to fly.