Incanting a sound strangely of this world
the boats, low in the harbour,
said all there was to say about ups and downs.
I liked the fact that such a sound is what comes
of a little buffeting, and thought it true to life,
like the rise and fall of blood sugar
I’d call the body’s rainbow weather.
It was always one thing after another –
and the only way we could be in the world, you and I,
was when that sound which inhabits
the long afternoon the way salt inhabits air
was more than true to life; when boat, wind
and the music the two made together exemplified
the pneuma, or Paraclete, or something, something
not seen, not visibly created – like dark matter.
Your thought, that is to say, seemed always
to brood above the face of the waters.
We stepped across the causeway for the better part
of the beach. The gulls, you said, were like quavers
detaching from an invisible stave,
sweeping in on us with their horrid recital.
The only way, I said, of dealing with this is –
if you can imagine it – to upturn each crescent moon
that governs the swing of your moods
into a crucible, and start from there, quite scientifically;
study your charts, and watch your compass,
and say to yourself: there is no stain
that cannot dissolve in water,
no clinker of habit, no fixed residue.
By this time we’d drunk the last of the ale.
As you rolled the empty bottle across the tarmac,
it curved inertly on the path of its own barmy ecliptic.
All we could do was make up names
for boats in the harbour:
Antares, Kyrie, The Mazzaroth;
names suddenly real in the slurring rain.
Arcturus, Cygnus, The God Help Us;
their hulls like cupped hands, hands of oblation.
Cercylas, Inebrius, The Chimay Blue –
and that was quite enough; by then I had to shush you.
from Sidereal (Picador, 2011), © Rachael Boast 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher.