It is ten to two in the morning
and I am rising and falling on a raft
somewhere between Lundy, Fastnet

and the Irish Sea. The waves are black,
the moon died an hour ago, nothing here
to steady me except the man

murmuring poems in my ear,
doom-laden tales about rain or gales,
like backpackers, losing their identity

the farther east they veer.
With each languid verse, breathing
slows; a brass band strikes up

at the prospect of new lows
in southern Sweden. I drown in the melisma
of that dressed-for-dinner voice

sent out to anchor me
with primroses in a ditch,
a harmonium in a draughty church hall

or, moons ago, a young father
sitting nightwatch by his short-of-breath son
with nothing to fall back on

but a half-remembered list
of masculine nouns—amnis, axis, caulis, collis
clunis, crinis, fuscis, follis…

Stilled by the rhythm
and with his hand on the boy’s, he is oblivious
to everything—even the bereft woman

singing Mahler through the mist
who goes on calling out to him
faintly and intermittently through the night

from some island or dead city.