12 April 2015

Beyond the bay, the infant-bearing sea

                                     by Rowan Williams

Swansea Bay: Dylan at 100

A thumb drawn down, smearing the grey wash,
storm pillars float over a December morning,
            the sun still tipping rocks with liquid
out at the headland. In the bay swells urge
this way and that; a dark patch swings
out from the sea wall, pushes the pushing current
sideways, the lanes of water tilting by inches
under the lurid morning, heaving this way and that
beneath the mottled skin and pinching it into the long
blade of a wave, the knife under the cloth
ready to slice. Watching, you have no notion
how it all runs, the hidden weights swinging
and striking, passing their messages, hidden
as the pulses under the scalp, behind the eyes,
that sometimes pinch themselves into a sharp
fold, into an edge, as if the buried cranial dances
gathered themselves to cut, for a moment, at
the skull's dry case and break through in white curls.

I sang in my chains. I listened for the pushing swell
of light in the country yards, the undertow
of bliss that still cuts at the cloth, at the bone,
at all the tired shrouds. I listened
for the tide retreating and the small lick and splash
of breeze on the trickles between corrugated sand,
for the silent footfall of pacing birds, processing
to their office. Beyond the bay, the infant-bearing sea
slips further off, the next room is quiet and the sun
whispers hoarsely. When I call in my dream for it,
my voice is small and the knife strains bluntly
at the knotted cloth. Watching the swell again
at whispering liquid sunrise, I have no answer
when I wonder how the world's sand runs
out of grace and the dark moods of the water
jostle each other; I cannot tell if they will gather
ever again, severing the milky web that holds me
mortally. Do not go. Now as I was

From Rowan Williams, The Other Mountain.

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