Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Fleeting: a poem by John Kinsella
It’s a three-boat fleet moored at the pier.
Won’t be there long, then off, out to sea, plundering.
The hawsers around capstans with easy knots
are expected to hold, though a wind is rising;
sailors, arms crossed and huddled together, mutter
into each other’s faces. Birds are nowhere,
unlike when smaller boats sail slowly in.
My walk takes me down Ardmanagh Road,
left onto Main Street, then right onto Pier Road
down past Pier Cottages and onto the pier itself.
There’s smashed ice on the ground in front of The Works,
and a pair of freezer trucks wait blankly. Drivers
sit in cars, eating and staring into the harbour,
translating scenery through anxieties.
Or, for the first time today, they are thinking
of nothing. Overlaying thoughts, fusing to zero.
I walk up hacked-out streets to Colla Road
and turn right. Holiday houses. Cottages
with names of birds: swallow, wren, kingfisher...
could be back ‘home’, where in supreme heat
birds with those names gasp along drying rivers.
Winter is coming on and the air is dead fish
and coal smoke. Houses: freshly painted. A tractor
driven by an old man sheds mud and cowshit
as if it’s a reclaiming of something he might
have possessed if his fields had been given room
to spread. Shy locals enfolded in wraps follow
small, brisk dogs. I walk off what I am not;
with no rights of soil, lost rights of parentage,
no rights of nature. I won’t go out on boats that kill fish,
out beyond territorial waters of all countries. Bashed
as a child for being ‘a poof’, bashed as an adult
for being ‘queer’, I am remade in somebody’s image,
remade in my configurings of ‘here’. The ships
sail off the edge of the world, coal smoke
blocks our way to the light. A few twists and turns
and I arrive back home, transcoded. The ‘who’ and ‘what’
are imprinted all over. I wear a thin shirt in coldest
weather — my body has closed off from extremes.
I don’t feel. It will be so cold or so hot I will die before
realising. Rooks are sitting atop chimneys and I know
before I open a door that Tracy will have heard their talk.