Literary New England

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Maine Aubade

Hear and feel the beauty of this poem—perfect for summertime—written by the incredibly talented Jonas Zdanys of Connecticut. Pure Lit New England!

 

MAINE AUBADE

 

1.

 

The simple lyrics of waves

and sea flowers stutter

like feathery tufts of light

through darkness brittle

as charred paper.  Loose shapes

of birds clip the water,

trolling the banks

of the Kennebunk, and slip

without sound through reeds

pared by the stitch of night.

On this narrow furrow

of shore wedged between

the river and sea, you touch

your fingers to my wrist,

in one cupped hand holding

the pale shells you gathered

to catch the light.  The grasses

creak and the moon casts

small circles on the river,

spiking white slivers of water

that hum with the cold

flat voice of the wind.

 

2.

 

The tuned gathering of mist

and clouds above water

that cannot hold the tympanic moon

shrouds the horizon like gray gauze.

Waves in the distance break

in a noiseless slide, lines

smoothed to sheets of dark green

oiled by dapples of light

from shore that flash

off the contours of watery foam

ruffled by a wind far out at sea.

 

Quickened tangles of birches

and scrub pines press forward

in half-relief toward sand

leached to blue shadows

by the curl of the coming tide.

Head down, you stare into the fire

as it reddens the stacked

driftwood and lights your hair,

flames fingering the leaves

of the trees that frame you and moving

like brittle chimes in the wind.

 

3.

 

The landscape is suddenly still

as the cramped angle and thin

crack of sky shift blue

along the bend in the river

and flatten to a wedge of yellow

that threads with the current

among the knobbed rocks,

sliding back upon itself

and retreating into shadows

bent as sticks in clear water.

In this place preserved from the sea,

under the worn fingers of trees

thinning to clouds and fog

above the river, you trace

the outline of the dead bird

lit by the moon in the sand,

wing feathers gray as stone,

hissing like the wind hollowed

at dead center, like sagging leaves

fluttering against the scrape of water,

like unmoored things drifting

aimless and shimmering to silence.

 

4.

 

The veiled flanks of the river

are flecked with primrose and laurel,

flowers gone to the hard mercy

of wind that skims shoals

thick and black with mussels.  The bristle

of water in eddies and pools

thickens an octave to a soft lament

trembling among rocks sour

with the sea’s smell curling

in the measured breeze from the east

that brings the first taste of dawn

to birds unwound on the shifting waves.

You stretch strands of eelgrass

across the rocks, arrange pieces

of driftwood softened by water

like a cradle or trap around the tide

pool at your feet, foraging in water

streaked by first light for signs

of life, face pressed against knees

that muffle a voice rising slowly

from your hollows like a small cry

lost between the sea and wind.

 

5.

 

Water spreads luminous and thin

across the pale blue bruise

of morning as it shifts to white

in the pulse of reeds ringed

by the crouch of night.  The play

of light bursts among the twisted vines

where the sea and river turn to land

and the sting of water hardens

to circles of dark birds strumming

the trees, the shape of something

fragile and small scattered to flight,

trickling through crevices of fog

in the clustered shallows

that mark the end of the season.

Forgotten like a seed cast

on dry sand, your face softens

to a weightless blur mitered

in the scrim of morning by bird song

that floats like mist across the inlet

where water brushes the sky

and touches us, transfigured by light

to counterpoints of silence and wind.