A wandering line of blue earth
showing through the shale:
precious stuff from storybooks --
gold for armbands, or nickel
that will make a famous sword:
and you stand clayfingered, trying
to haul a net-full of soaking denim
up from a stubborn mind --
what was it? Forgotten now, along
with skills: smelting, hammering,
plunging the hot blade into cold hissing water.
You never knew
how to do any of them, you know.
Start again. Begin when all the rest had left behind them
headlong death in battle or at sea --
No, that again
is someone else's story. Not mine.
Where does mine begin?
Well, there was a mixer, an egg beater,
and if you took the paddles out
and put it at the stern of the top bunk
it became the motor of a boat
and you could twist it for fast or slower rev.
Three children blonder than possible
would slowly throb through brilliant
aquamarine lagoons, and gaps in wicked reefs,
and when the sharks came -- full throttle,
clinging to the sides,
the urgent whine singing above our heads,
and the spray flying!
Is that my story? One of them?
I let the sodden mass go:
I'm out of strength, or courage.
I want to go now naked of the stories,
I want to go on light bare feet
over the hill where waves of wind
scurry through the grass. Is it too late?
Turn back, and the sun is rocking backwards,
the city's lights already gaining strength.
But even at twilight,
blue clay: the riverbank
of stories told before the words were known;
it is not inside the stories that you want to look.
It is inside the clay. Thrust your fingers deep.