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Paphos by the Sea

[On the cliff, by the ocean, at daybreak]

What I saw as smoke in the distance
resolves as I move closer
to a tangle of white branches
extending from a weathered white trunk
bare except for a few limbs
growing at the base
in a shroud of living bark
sheltered in the wake of the wind

It is as if being by the ocean arouses
a longing for shapes beyond the self -
like the sound of gull calls falling
from above fog

~ ~ ~

[The Gull]

A piece of netting
washed onshore
but still dutiful
to its purpose
caught a scavenging gull
and reduced it
by fog
by night
by sea-creature
to bones and a feathery shawl

a white meander strewn
a central order
of vertebra.

The gull bill terminates
as red suggestion

Daylight finds the thing
where it fell
one wing beneath its body
one outspread
head thrown-back
in a broken-necked call.

Waves like supplicants
in black robes
fall prostrate

white noise -
swept by wind

their un-
broken voices
there is no god
before god
there is no god
to this ancient symbol
each generation returns
to wrest the world
of its confusions

~ ~ ~

[Natural History]

From a perspective
of geologic time, stone floats and moves.
And eventually the plate

bearing the sea contacts
the plate bearing dry land
and the heavy sea bends

beneath the continent
and its sea surface is scraped
and wrinkled into mountains

and from a perspective of long time
water and wind erode
the stone into crumbling sea stacks ...

where in a soil-filled nook
the seed of a shore pine
grew beyond its habit

and now its roots extend their purpose
over gray stone in search
of sustenance

~ ~ ~


Some part of my memory must recognize
the conceit of the father, must still yearn
for the personification of nature.

The crooked beauty of desire
fixes me to this place -
both contained by and containing
its senseless passion.

Related Links Paphos is the son of Pygmalion
1st know version Dec, 2002
Latest version June, 2011
This poem is nearing completion
A Case for the Idols


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