The Empty View
by Peter Shefler

(On leaving Far Away Point ~ The last night at The Cottage)

Evening falls short in the stillness
of solsticed days, spiraled in widening wakes
now echoed cold, as the Eliza Jane slips one last time
back into her berth and mooring—
that one very boathouse in the cove
still covering her again.
In the gloaming fog, it seems
as if the once north-stirred spinning certain sky
is let loose and untethered, cloaked in a drifting shroud,
knowing now neither
the flourished beginning, nor the corded bitter end.
So, this is what it looks like
when everything is spindrift, from ages ago
so suddenly removed—this is how the Cottage windows
seem to no longer look out
over all those miles of unclouded waters once fetched.
No maps on the walls; no more driftwood left on the deck;
no long-lost treasures to find among the wayward winds
meandering tidally both day and night;
no talismans and eagle feathers any longer
fallen on the sill to draw the eye
ever seaward, east and hopeful; no
waves crashing endlessly on the unshaked shore. And all these
rememberings etched so deeply, both ravened black
and moon-silvered bright. There was no lack
of gale-tossed dreams this year.
I keep what was within me, keen within me here.
Packing boxes, paper tissued between old Wedgewood plates
on the topmost shelf, a bottle of unopened pear wine
from the mountain tree
falls and breaks apart in shattered green glass,
and the floor is puddled like islands
of honey never to be discovered, or tasted
by young hearts again.
Lass and laddie once played on the sandy beaches near,
and we built castles to be washed away,
and knew what it was
to hold, and then cast away fear. We knew
this bold kiss of the storm
and to never let go of the stem of the oar, turning
in our hands now blistered—we knew
how to feather the blade
and dip it back athwart into the unfathomed unknown. Yes,
we knew so many muddled whirlpooled currents,
and how to survive the maelstrom's churning abyss.
Householded now, all the belongings
are each one to another lashed,
gathered for a rivered journey to unknown sources.
Beginning again, in shades of colors yet unnamed,
I know not what I knew before. Yet in the unquiet yearning
are all the oceans of every unwept tear.
I keep what was within me, keen within me here.


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