On The Pacific Sandpiper
After the storm had passed over the waters
and the clouds were left piled on the horizon,
I saw you leaning like a figurehead,
golden and gilded, over the prow.
The sun's edge the rim of your own self.
It was midmorning and we had entered the docks
concealed beneath sacking in the back of a van
to occupy a ship owned and operated by
International Nuclear Services.
Vessel type: Nuclear Fuel Carrier.
Southampton Water had become
the Styx, it was those clouds, the airy chambers
of shadow they contained,
that made it seem that way.
I said I held a dusty apple
to my mouth . . . eating it there to absorb
an afterlife, the sense of a light
or an energy that refuses to die.
I'd just stepped out of the Job Centre.
I'd gone there to sign on.
You were on your way to the rendezvous,
and being always a bit in love with you,
I went along.
I made up myths about the day,
I preferred it mystified.
It was the sense of what might happen
if they cast off and steamed into the Solent,
of being beholden to those whose
weird vessel we had boarded.
And the being in love with you.
I said you looked to the centre
of your self, the old garden
of knowledge and light
moored above what I called 'our rusty tub',
an orchard in the clouds,
or perhaps you grabbed me by the head
and pointed my eyes there,
so I could see, way up from the estuary,
the source things flowed from.