Arc light

When they come to tell the story
they will say that they could still smell ozone in the air,
could still hear thunder drumming all around
when the captain asked your name,
held the raw of your hands in his
and said make two fists,
then breathe out slow
and let go.

They’ll tell it that they found you smoking,
arms outstretched and rigour locked,
feet bootless on the deck,
eyes pinned to a sky still sparking
blue against the black, the mast above you
split and splintered black, smouldering
and weeping smoke into the night.

They’ll say the storm had risen in the east,
its belly growing fat then full of drums and fire
as it folded in towards the ship, and speak of how,
at the storm-sail call, you made it halfway
up the mast to unknot a stuck and twisting line
before the sky lit up in fire.

They’ll talk of how the sky pressed its face to yours
and threw you down,
left you baptised in electrons,
burnt the shadow of a crucifix into your chest
and left a tuft of hair still smouldering.

They’ll cross themselves, then pour another shot
and speak of revelation as they recall your mouth,
yawning like the earth, singing up the dead,
a pale blue flame wicked up on your tongue,
translating the binary of lightning,
some message from the sky.

We are the song of sparrows
hurling themselves through glass.
We are the sound of axes
swung at something brass.

We, such stuff as dreams are made

it’s true sometimes,
a day     will end like this:

the river swelling as the tide
                    comes in,
the sun slouching down
           below the ridgeline,
light unstitching the horizon.

the shadow of a hunting hawk
spiralling a thread of air
          above the headland,
waves singing quiet through the water,
      golden light    washing your hands.

your daughter carrying
a bucket full of shells she plucked
         from the lowtide line,
     she’ll spill like jewels
across your palm,

and you,     for once with no desire
to weight these things with any
       meaning but their own,
for once with nothing 
                 in your head but
                         thank you.