BY PATRICK ERRINGTON
If I get anything from the lightless it’s less
space, the world crowding in to touch
and breath. Right now in a plot of north
Canada, exposure alone is sufficient
to strip a drunk down to a body, but here
I’m frayed far from mine by the scrabble
of sheets on sleeplessness. Not much
as problems go, when people are dying
just outside my language, and try
as I might there are so many that elude
still the word for comfort as I stretch it
over the page like a hand, feel into the gut
beyond the human, groping down to dumb
mammal warmth. The distant country across
the mattress answers me in absence like
the quiet behind the door that yawns
for you: cold, it tells me, and I shiver out
from under snow of sleep and no matter
how I churn, blink the frost from my eyes,
press my heart beyond me into things,
still this word, still this small word.
low tide at the end of the peffer burn
BY PATRICK ERRINGTON
Even ending was animal. A tide pulled back
over mudflat. Softening interstice. Little definitions
lighting upon the scene from the easy tongues
of air, image teased here
and there apart.
This early light wholes things. Wet bursts
of presence: ghost shrimp
in their consistent burrows, goby, eelgrass.
The insistence of a dragonfly’s compound eye.
No shapes but signs
A worm avoids
a plover’s stab. Pools wash themselves
with wind. Instance assured
by a recurrence of greater waves. Lineations
of salt mark what has drawn back into itself;
a paper-white permits all colour.
Leaving asks something to remain.
When I allow a lake a shape, it too
goes loveless. The slicked black leg
of an egret out-bends the body. When I
loved you, it was baby’s ear small:
impossible empire. Even still. It permitted
flowering. Her body clotting
against mine. Waves have folded
the siltplane with their far weather.
To the left, not far,
a gravel run of river overspills.
A sandpiper creases the water
with its beak. Nothing tears
like boyhood. Even a wave
hates the headland that bears it. What change
is unremarkable. Like the end of love, lighting
there in the doorway leaving so much space,
Stones standing themselves
for salt, white astonishment of barnacle
on a crab’s brick back. I’ve known to come apart
like this: hands standing themselves
from the heart, baring their lines to the sun.
An estuary of only afternoon.
This closed house
holds too little air. An emptied sound swells
against the ear. Whatever might have been said
leaves room, invertebrate, loose in their fine fabrics.
Insistence of recovering tide redistributes
what wealth remains, sediment letting go
its hard-won histories. It smooths,
again, blown brittlely singular.
When the door closes behind you—
siltplane palm loosing its lines—
the edges are slit with sunlight.
Not enough to name, just enough to see by.