Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Self-propelling

Outwards the land resembles nothing so much as dried gravy:

the trees stunted, the rocks sparse,  the coast smoothed over by the trowel of time

And the sea, which echoes the land’s voice, undulates like greasy rubber under a sullen sky

image by Mostafa Habibi

The Self-propelling

Our boat lumbered in, took passengers and creased its way off again

I’ve watched the oars lift and plunge, scoop the oozing sea into bucketsful of argument,

catch political crabs, imagined diplomacies, crossing floors and times

I’ve seen no ferryman drive those blades, no solid being rooted in flesh

only the empty thwarts creak as if under load,

the grunt of wood and sigh of shackle and spin

We waited in silence for light and dark to pass

we waited in eager ignorance, believing always in the craft

self-propelling to our shores.

It is our choice and our creed:  Be ready to embark

The others have gone across the shingle,

leaving tainted air where they passed.

I stood and watched them go.

Time passes

I am buried now, age laps me, the sky lowers

the dinghy returns for one last trip

Ferryman ships the dripping oars

now he waits for me, restless.

My limbs respond to the call,

I am walking, skipping through shallows, stepping aboard.

The keel grinds on sand, heavy with my imagined weight

Ferryman poles off the shore

then flicks the oars into their locks:

with a cry – I hear his voice! – he pulls away.

The sea becomes the air: we fly.

We, who once  

Thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the prompt.  Other journeys may be found here



jane.healy said...

Just this minute signed in and spotted the new Magpie - couldn't think what to say so looked for what it had inspiredothers to write.

Loved this reponse!

Kathe W. said...

wow- what a great piece.

anthonynorth said...

Such an excellent, eerie atmosphere to this.

Catfish Tales said...

Appears as the final passing, indeed - yipes

Stafford Ray said...

"the coast smoothed over by the trowel of time" and that wasn't the only gem!
If I believed in ghosts and the occult, this would give me goose bumps!

Friko said...

I've been playing with the idea of a ferryman myself.
This is good.

jabblog said...

The final passage - inescapable but not frightening through your words.

jen revved said...

Terrific-- beautiful language on rough seas--

I’ve seen no ferryman drive those blades, no solid being rooted in flesh

only the empty thwarts creak as if under load,

the grunt of wood and sigh of shackle and spin

yes! xxxj

christopher said...

your imagery is strong. A pleasure being here.

Helen said...

So intense, full of meaning. Yes, a pleasure to read!!!

Martin said...

Wow, Isabel, so much to like here, especially, "...heavy with my imagined weight..."

Cad said...

We who once... ???? But what, is the question?

Other Mary said...

Oh, the ferryman takes this to a whole different plane. There's a lot going on here Isabel. One little specific thing I thought was great, 'the oozing sea into bucketsful of argument, Kudos on this!

Lyn said...

"Believing always in the craft"...mistake #1...Brilliant and profound!

Doctor FTSE said...

Powerful imagery here. Good poem.

kaykuala said...

A great verse. Thought provoking! Excellent!


chiccoreal said...

Dear Isabel: Love how the last line drifts on, as endless as the sea;

The sea becomes the air: we fly.
We, who once

Seems more could be said but it isn't; just enough to keep 'em guessing...great oarsmanship!

Kathy Bischoping said...

Wonderful finale! Shades of "We who are about to die salute you" seem to me to run through this, in the creed of readiness, in the closing line, and of course the ferryman.

ninotaziz said...

I see yourpoem clearly. And it's perfect the way it is.

Lovely and sad at the same time.

thingy said...

This is so otherworldy and mysterious. Simply beautiful.

Brigid said...

A powerful write, beautifully written:)

Tess Kincaid said...

Grunt of wood...oh yeah!

Ann Grenier said...

I am reminded of the ferryman on the River Styx transporting the dead and of Dante's ferryman. Eerie and mysterious, perfect response to the prompt.

Brian Miller said...

the opening is spectacular in its imagery...and your story telling follows well after...really enjoyed your eerie enchantment...

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Great words and imagery. Excellent!

Anna :o]

lucychili said...

evocative and dreamlike

jeannette said...

beautiful words...beautifully written!

Berowne said...

Were you referring to the river Styx -- or did I guess wrong?

Dave King said...

The poem generally is superb - which must mean that the ending is superb+!