In the Gardens of the Fisherman

In the Gardens of the Fisherman

I walk down the cobble streets of the old port
to the edge of the eastern sea, composed, made up
of history, of calling. I ask for the touch of wing,
for the kiss of wave, for some sound of what I am.

Pebbles and shells settle in the implacable sand,
in the open mouth. The complacency of kelp
speaks of the restless serenity of the petrel,
of the spell of red dusk and the spume.

The lapping of hope is more than a breaking,
and surely love is more than rescue or an angel.
The wind’s ragged cry rises and the white aster
blooms again in the gardens of the fishermen.

Under the sway of meteor and tide,
I huddle near a dead gull among the rocks.
Eternity settles like frost over my feet.
The time has come to light the bonfire.

Shall we find a way to sustain the terror
and be content with our reward?
Shall we rub ash on our forehead
and ride the gray whale to the depths?

I claim it all, and in me the clam evolves,
closes and opens, and lets go its voice
like the first kiss, like the first wound.
For a time, the old soul is the horizon.

William O’Daly

Published in Water Ways (a collaboration with JS Graustein), Folded Word Press, 2017