We come to this northern shore to be polite —
to share in this finished, open health,
this slow-walking, seagull-shot spirit-calm
and leave our poisoned arias behind —
the banal, internecine brutality,
the choking, distending messes
of our exploited home countries —
for a chance at this semi-salt clean.
Brazilians check festival tickets,
Poles serve up fried haddock and chips
with ketchup at Portobello strand
where even the bees demure from stinging.
We come here — Chinese, Tibetans, Nepalese,
Muslim Indians, Christian Pakistanis
for Noble Leisure! Prize Bingo!
walking this wide, untrammelled bay
gripping white moccasins in one jewelled hand.
A blank blade of paper’s running crosswise
cutting through fevered muscle memory —
stiff, bloated, wracking despair
some Portuguese how-to-get-in-touch-with-you’s
are languidly transversing — paper
soaking up wound-energy in pools
just by virtue of its blankness passing through,
pain forming fine new patterns on the page
as of words written there by agency
satisfying a cyclical urge for nuance
mature as October sunset, its tree-line
ribboning the glen-side umber and auburn —
colours singing the sky’s longing for earth
in their very leaves’ crippling, their colour-blood
perfectly, aesthetically spilling down.
This was the method of Job’s tears,
building castles by dribbling sand.
Sometimes worshippers march, creating holes,
little rips in the space-time continuum
through which they would grab baser glories.
“Even so, Beloved, I at last record,
Here ends my strife. If thou invite me forth,
I rise above abasement at the word.
Make thy love larger to enlarge my worth.”
Andrew Singer is a poet, literary editor and translator, teacher and visual artist. He is director and chief editor of Trafika Europe (https://trafikaeurope.org) – showcasing new fiction and poetry in English and English translation from across Europe – and has now launched Trafika Europe Radio (https://trafikaeurope.org/go/radio), Europe’s literary radio station, free online. He mentored in poetry with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott at Boston University, and he has taught Creative Writing, Literary Translation, and seminars in literature widely at universities in the US and Europe. Most recently (pre-pandemic), he has been leading poetry workshops at Bowery Poetry Club in NYC; these sessions are now available one-on-one, privately online – more details are here: https://www.trafikaeurope.org/product/poetry-tutoring. He presently lives in Manhattan.