Caught by the River

By the Sound, at Night

Jelle Cauwenberghs | 17th October 2015

A poem by Jelle Cauwenberghs

Drove up to gaze at
The blood moon.
Rangers told us the park
Was closed. Nature
Was closed, they said.
Flashing a light, pointing
At a distance behind us, not
Saying much.

We found a private drive,
And parked where it said
“No parking.”
The moon rose, bled,
It wouldn’t for another twenty years.

We walked past a row of houses,
Some occupied, some shut.
After summer, before the storms,
Before first snow.
Before the cities called them back,
Before the seasons took possession.

There was the invisible sand, its
Wet glitter, the low slap of tide.
The spray of the stars crabbed
By short and long-distance flights
Reaching far into the gray urban dark.

There was New Haven, there
You guessed New York, a large volume.
There was the town you forgot the name of, with
The nice gardens.

The black, scuttling sand below
For once seemed nameless,
A place not yet discovered.
A pilgrim landed here.
A native man planted squash. Tribes
Mingled, warred. There was prayer. Wintering
Birds would sing, and remain.
A scar once made by fire
Now was an anchoring point,
A place where you could land a boat,
A dry place in the marshland,
An open view.

Screens flickered blue. Windows
Went dark. The eclipse drew
The few remaining residents outside,
To pivot by the shore, to collect as bodies, as
The luminous body circled their bodies,
And made them light.

The moon turned
Red, sap turning to sugar,
A staunched wound,
Daubed by black earth, kissed
Until it welled no more.
The houses sank away.
We found stairs in the sand and
Craned our necks, to
Rise above the damp light,
The bright beacons by the shore.

Over Long Island Sound,
We heard the pines of
Hammonasset beach.
We went home, in silence.
The night already gone
From our memory, from
The past paling harvest as
A shell grown from bone, a
Wild scarlet red.

Jelle Cauwenberghs on Caught by the River