Tired of Islands

That sail
The elemental center 
For home,  
For swallows and household fires
That father and husband's longing
That love of order
In every gull's outcry
As the dialect names of skies  

For the sea-wanderer 
The fields are evenings long
The conclusions of exhausted surf
In the high right hand of Ireland. 

Sea Grapes ~ Derek Walton

That sail which leans on light,
tired of islands,
a schooner beating up the Caribbean

for home, could be Odysseus,
home-bound on the Aegean;

that father and husband’s

longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is
like the adulterer hearing Nausicaa’s name

in every gull’s outcry.

This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
between obsession and responsibility
will never finish and has been the same

for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore
now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,
since Troy sighed its last flame,

and the blind giant’s boulder heaved the trough
from whose groundswell the great hexameters come
the conclusions of exhausted surf.

The classics can console. But not enough.

Deep Ulster ~ Harry Clifton

It was there, the elemental center, 
All the time. Eternally present, repeating itself   
Like seasons, where the times and dates  

For swallows and household fires are written down,   

The grouse are counted, the quotas of stocked rainbows.  
that love of order, for its own sake.   
Only the hill-farms, and the high sheep country   
Above politics—the enormous relief

Up there,
as the dialect names of skies 
Return, along with their clouds, and the old knowledge   
Opens the mind again. To dream, to just potter   
In the yard, to fiddle with local stations   

In the kitchen, where news that is no news   
Finally, at last, fills up the years  
With pure existence. Lit from beneath 
The fields are evenings long, the tree by the house …

In a state plantation
                                   Nowhere but here
In the high right hand of Ireland, do the weather fronts   
Give way so slowly, to such ambivalent light.

Joining dVerse’s Open Link Night with this cento/patchwork poem of alternate lines from ‘Sea Grapes’ by Derek Walcott & Harry Clifton’s ‘Deep Ulster’. Title taken from ‘Sea Grapes’