Poetry / February 2008 (Issue 2)

Sea Level at Midnight

by Todd Swift

As she sleeps sleep has to
Fold, into the lengths going
As far as she will go, to hold
The stars that leap, slowing.
Her head carries weight, no
Freighter can list its bearing,
Or bar the slightest sea-faring,
In fog that goes down in cold
Sleights of sea-blacks, off-gold
And barren, the slow hands
Of water, touching. She tells
Me all there is of god, not else,
The false flag of shipping
Will signal the nation flown by
Even in storm or perishing,
When men set off the starboard
And go down in the black dawn
When their mothers are dreaming
Of how they'll come rosy, old.
All that's wedded can be sold
Unless you tell the sea-hag nothing
Here can be bartered, sundered,
For what an altar has put together
No mortal or wave can plunder.

Editors' note: A review of Todd Swift's Seaway: New and Selected Poems is available in issue #8 of Cha.

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