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  • Windy October Night, Waterside
  • Ryan Wilson (bio)

WINDY OCTOBER NIGHT, WATERSIDE

Lève l'ancre pour une exotique nature!

—Mallarmé

Abandoned yachts, and less immoderate skiffs,        Resigned in their rope webbingTo the harbor's sulfide reek, still softly rock        In starlit flooding and ebbingTonight, and sometimes, like age's vague what-ifs,        Rise toward the rickety dock

(Which holds them restless captives far too often)        On a poor excuse for a waveAnd give a hollow knock, a wooden sound,        The thud of a man in his graveAwakening and pounding on his coffin        Uselessly. Think of the drowned

Anchors that smile now in the sediment        Of what's forever lost.Think of the toilet-seats the hydrophytes        Have purfled and embossedWith Byzantine designs, the fortune spent,        In coins, on wishes, nights

Like this, the rods fish caught, the rusting hulls        Of pleasure's swift excesses,The steel-toe boots, their laces undulating        Like Ophelia's loosened tresses,The grace of slow decomposition, skulls        Of lovers done debating [End Page 549]

Hope's chance, the jetsam of our sunlit days        All gathered, now, togetherIn a realm where the celestial bodies seem,        Themselves, tenants, and weatherMeans nothing. All that is eternally sways        In the green dark of a dream. …

The night-wind lifts. With wavelets' supple plashes        The creaks of straining ropes,Like old doors opening or closing, augur        The coming of fresh hopes.So why should food forever smack of ashes?        You swig your trendy lager.

If loss, like logic, holds as axiom        That life is misery,The membrane separating you from God's        The present tense of be.So why trudge through the decades yet to come,        The bleak Iditarods

Of your tomorrows, glacial grind of years,        When their brute apparatusOf frostbite, wolves, snow-blindness, and despair        Conspires to keep, as statusQuo, your face bejeweled with frozen tears?        To leave, to go out there,

To enter the eternal world of myth        Is simple. Just stop being.As soon as your few friends lose their last thought        Of you (which will prove freeingFor them) you'll find yourself among, forthwith,        The Deathless Things you've sought.

In that subaqueous glow the deep world must        Think rises and illuminesThe vacant moon, perhaps the skeletons        Wish peace upon us humans,Who fog our world with hopeful clouds of dust,        Us wild-eyed, anxious ones, [End Page 550]

Who hear our deathless parts, souls if you will,        Like children locked in a closet,Pounding the door, pleading to be released.        Perhaps, if one may positA bold conjecture, we must learn to kill        Ourselves, or kill, at least,

What ties us to the world, that we may know        The peace of innocence,Cool as a breeze through a hole in the smoky cortex.        It's starting to make some sense…(Jump off the dock. Jump. Jump!. …) No, not yet. No.        The whirling silken vortex

Tomorrow promises is easier        Than passing through life's portal,Somehow. Two deaths diverge in every wood,        And you, you must be mortal,And die the slow death others would prefer.        Let's call that love. Yeah? Good.

(Of course, we're kept alive by cowardice,        But let's not say such things.For God's sake, there are children: grow some pity!)        Think of the sufferingsThat, missing you, shattered some stranger's bliss.        Now, turn to the glittering city

Behind you. Walk back down the dock (and note        That you're so fortunateTo walk) and see, with your own blessèd vision,        The world you might have quit,That sloping bank, dark tree-line, those remote        Skyscrapers. Make the decision

To walk the streets again, to be distracted.        There, lovers flirt, non-stop,And money's made. Don't notice the lamp-post        (Filigreed iron, its topFlowering) to which the moths are so attracted        Houses an eager host [End Page 551]

Who's tidying his home, making exquisite        Baroque designs for allThe wingèd things whose maddened little flight        Might lead them, soon, to callOn him by chance, or error. Don't ask, Is it        For all who seek the light? [End Page 552...

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