Caught by the River

Barents: a poem by Jelle Cauwenberghs

Jelle Cauwenberghs | 10th January 2017

The door stood unhinged,
yellow framed
in the black garden, egg shelled
with the stormy birches.

The petrel emergency
of the bleached, ribbed sloop.
His free will robbed from him
like Friday, good, a billy goat.

Chief of them
the night that stole cormorants
and cried for help and beaconed across
the sea; the mare white sea not soft.

He fit the spectacular glass
in their windows, rigged the mast,
put the silver lynx to sleep.

He stroked the whiskers and said hush. Hush
now, for the dark is full; silver shines.

A black prayer scroll on the water, the veinswell –
flensed minke kreng or raked inkwell.

Walruses spun in the surf, and pine washed up
all pale, logs lodged in the ice.
Could you blame him?

for leaving; for crushing the carmine rose, for
the pomegranate cut, for the cochineal red
on the bleeding prickly pear?

Nobody saw him cast off; no-name nemo looting
so far from the swan and crown, the thorny heart
that slept under a slab, and fished by lantern light.

Nobody keened for him that could:
no gull or petticoat. They jelly-nibbled at his feet.

He disappeared in the foam,
floating raylike then gown gone, the last man
to leave the house of last refuge.

Jelle Cauwenberghs on Caught by the River