DANGER IN THE WATER
Consider yourself boarding a ship. The sailors’ tune lingers on the last note
as if lying in wait. Our faces show the colour of our hearts. The water
flows crystal-clear down the middle of the street. It cannot
fail for a river is a rite, though it resembles a figure
so strange, now jumping close. To be in the living water,
no longer hold it against us, stiff and cold! You cannot fail to reach
through the empty window into the little harbour, as we stand
on the banks in a fair life, empty cans and bottles bobbing in the foam.
Oh you along the way, you really don’t know anything. The little fish
receiving the water meets our guide. I come from inland, too.
A current under here breaks off the owner of the bark, I alone
with open face. I’ll puff him through the porthole into the waves,
winning back our connection with the wind. I’ll run on and be glad
of manufactured dreams through all the open fields. We have returned.
The flat world has become high, deep and wide. Still in nightshirts,
we’ll rush so swiftly towards the royal stream, and those smaller chambers.
Thus once I saw the footmen so familiar yet thought I had forgotten them.
I want to seek out quantities of those little creatures, their brilliance
to open us. Listen to the argument that is in my heart. Push them gently
back into the water, every tongue trembling under a wayward sun.
We arrive at the end of our voyage on the road’s watery surface,
at the top of the sharp rising, hands deep in coat pockets.
Let’s lean for a moment against the stone wall. I’m an adult
but I’m very young, and feel like saying ‘Mr’ by a sudden
turning of the road. Bridges are only too well known. The
September breeze bangs at the door. It’s difficult to call you
by your first name, though I mark well the cold slashes
of the roofs on the horizon. Somehow they reconnect me.
You are my elder, myself unseen. The only glimmer
is to know what it is to be born, to be led on step by step
and have visits from buddies. Can you get me out of here?
Science, technology, physical activity. You are more than welcome
unless you come clothed in military garb, and with all
the latest tales. I could have taken a different route, but I leave
the station with an unknown companion, still looking toward the village.
All are gone to rest. It’s death on the river when we cast back
into the past. What will happen to us? First, eat, but how?
Clearly and colourfully, it’s the language of these people
in this city. There’s a strange half-absence, aside from the concierge’s
daughter, sometimes fuzzy. I am separated from her by the crowd
at the door I knocked on only a few moments ago. A two-room
rental flat with your own furniture and a good few years to remember.
Squeezed, touched indifferently on all sides, I still linger by the door
but I keep my trap shut. The memoirist is of course making it up.
I think of both of them. I am afraid for them. A little space –
the vast bordello of the capital, a language spoken decades earlier.
My home is hidden away somewhere. Will I find it again?
Excuse me just a moment – a shot of whiskey will make me
less afraid. She prays in her own language while I telephone,
trembling like all good fellows of my calling, with some flicker
of grace. With my back to the wall, I call after her
on the other side, ready now once more, pants down.
Guide water to their fields, or put on other garments.
It’s quite a long way back to shape our lives
or carry forth the ashes. You have to contort
your face a bit, yet these are true – take a handful.
Swift and spirited, this is the offering, but not
to the sky, nor the ocean to which the living
have returned. Their wings or fins are joined
to one another, their costumes are on fire.
Some reach the other shore. A highway
shall be there, and another. Moved by the wind,
who can be warm alone? Then I returned
and perceived their vanity. Choose the path
of preparations of the heart. It is steep
in history. There is an island, a farther shore
to call passengers who go right on their ways.
It seems to die away, apart from our perceiving
on the lips of him. You can see inside the house
which has been abandoned. You do not need to search
for a door. Among the simple ones, I see you
before me. Do you remember what I wrote
on the wall by the window frame? The first word
begins here. The second begins invisible
and subtle of heart. You did the right thing –
the motion of a sling, the fall of a stone,
catches and kisses him. Oh, the small cities,
the technique of ‘dirty sound’. I have decked my bed
at the Cafe Vasco. These are of two kinds.
By means of their operations, I am not at home,
I have gone a long journey. Wish me a good morning
with a word of love. It tears truths from the straitjacket,
draws me out of many waters. I have heard your footsteps
calm and slow where the mirror is the surface.
Keep me as the apple of your eye. How beautiful you are,
engaged in faithfulness. The mouth is full
with no time to wait. It’s a theory of love although we
turn from him. There are people who note everything
which happens in the city. They were spread abroad.
You may think you will never, but out of the loss
comes sweetness. You feel strangely drawn away.
Everything is in order, and runs. What used to pass
for a thick covering of hair is thinning out, wounded
on the stones of wandering lanes. The universe vanishes.
The heave shoulder and the wave show up their crisp handling.
Things have neither voice nor colour, nor confide anything in us.
Copyright © Ian Seed 2017
Ian Seed’s latest publications are Italian Lessons (LikeThisPress 2017), Identity Papers (Shearsman 2016), and The Thief of Talant (Wakefield Press 2016), the first translation into English of Pierre Reverdy’s Le Voleur de Talan. He teaches at the University of Chester. His work has previously appeared in Molly Bloom 11.