The villagers here have a single theme. Really, it
is quite wearing, all these variations on the
strain of insufficiency. Why should I care?
But until my train comes I am stuck here. At the pension
I take my meals on trays up to my rooms, which causes
laughter between the manager and her daughter, who
otherwise aren’t on speaking terms. The cars are
decorated for a wedding and the battleships bite
their little bits of sky from the horizon, quarrying
the blue. Along the sea walk a track joins
one town to another and halfway in between, lined
with cedars, is the cemetery. The old men play at cards
all afternoon and kick the cobbled stones horribly
laced by tiny spray faced cats. I think that
I will take up smoking, if only to light
the air with sparks, each swallowing its
little bit of oxygen and its little bit of dark.
Beneath the broken heavy hills by the shapeless sparking sea
the odd unerotic angles of nude bathers, pink and bungled,
float on the landscape like lights, like balloons, like migraines.
Scalded shoulders and knees, florid heads and aspirant
bellies, goosepimpled, bulging over marks left by tight
removed suits; their tender feet stumble on the rocks crafted
by the ocean into axes and agents of blunt trauma.
They fit as neatly here as a cheque in an envelope, and in
their small devotions, awkwardly applying sunscreen
or spilling a towel across the harsh pebbled beach, they
are consistent with one another as disappointment and hope.
Top-heavy small brown birds nod in
the pine trees like clocks: tick squawk.
The mountains are heaped up around
like infamy. I am beginning to believe
in silence as a worthwhile project.
Something I tried so hard to be talked
out of. But this place is very persuasive,
with its apt unkindness, its chalk hills, its sea. The church
bells ring things that are not the hour.
Someone performs some service. But look,
there is burning, the reflection intensifies
the light. Not here, not here, is where we go in.
The Village, The Bathers, Dialectic
1 February 2014