in halifax harbour

in halifax harbour on the dartmouth side
before grey water quite alive
and discussing amid the rocks and wharves,
i sit among the wheeling gulls.

in halifax harbour on the dartmouth side
who sits on boulder, glacier-scraped,
and listens to the idle rhetoric of ports ?
of what does he see the sliding shapes
of ferryboat, barge, and battle-ship ?
the rhythmic spider-work of the bridge
cycles through my mind, and resumes in shape
the structure of my past:
insubstantial as a dream, immutable as stone,
welded by my heartbeat and my hopes.
the distant wink and whisper of lighthouses
dissolves and reassembles in faces:
faces of my youth, faces of men to whom I was a boy
and faces of the dead;
and filled with red flowers, red flowers once fallen,
falling and falling with great speed;
and the music’s echo deepens with the distance,
and the vision vanishes and dissolves into rain.

the chimney’s pencil on a sunset slate
describes in violet smoke a pensive scroll of music
with all the leisure of childhood,
heedless of the frown of night
gathering over the sea.

oh, i am screaming against the vise and iron wheels
that roll our lives and file them to the format that we bear!
i am straining against the metal chains that delineate our franchise!
i am scraping my fingertips in vain
on the iron windowpane
of the sky
and the lapping tide
of the circle where I sit,
in halifax harbour on the dartmouth side,
in halifax harbour on the dartmouth side.

krm