Monday, January 17, 2022

As If the Earth Stops Turning

You come to in a boat,
No idea who you are.
The boat is a rowboat

With oarlocks but no oars.
No one else is in it.
Mostly, what you can see

Is water, crinkled waves
Clear to the horizon,
Fine clouds, a greenish sky,

But straight in front of you
Is a rectilinear
Outline of an island

Or a building, a brick
Ship half-sunk in the waves,
Dark and many-cornered,

Some kind of a fortress
Rising from the water.
You’re drifting toward it.

As you get closer, swifts
Appear like clouds of gnats
Darting through battlements,

And now it’s obvious
That the island-building
Is a hulking ruin,

Windows gaping blacker
Among the near-black bricks,
No signs of life, except

For the swifts, and nothing
Down near the waterline
Like a dock or a gate,

Just cracked but seamless bricks.
You’re almost on it, now.
The walls loom overhead.

The waves are pushing you,
Nudging you, but you can’t
See what you’ll do except

Bump up against the bricks.
And so you do. Your boat
Bobs and bumps up against

The wall, and you feel small
And pointless with no clue
Who you are, what to do.

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