Departures - Poem by Lamont Palmer
For Lori Wagner and Ian Wagner
From the sea, the sun ascended like angels,
its heat sweeping up in bursts of movement,
its tense corona: hot matters to be settled.
I could live in huts of pictures, huts of thoughts.
I could speak as if the ocean had anecdotes.
When silence comes, it's held like grains of sand.
I chased down freshness before I knew what it was.
There, on 6th and Boardwalk, was a salty birth;
all sand, all spray, all air and remembrance.
It was not half bad in that seaside trailer,
that taciturn dwelling, narrow, but lovely with
the thought of a peace - a particular peace.
Your brother died before the ocean knew him,
before, from that trailer, he could consider his life,
and before tall whimbrels cried over groveling waves -
He bought that future; never lived it. Died on cold sand.
Why is there a haunting? Why do specters
sit in the fullness of mists, their afterlives
tied to the former life of dwellers and thinkers,
bent on receiving elusive explanations?
He clung to me and I never knew him,
which is the strangest visitation of all,
the inexplicable shadow, moving slow.
In all the seas, there are inexplicable faces,
in all the houses loving the shore, there is confession.
The water washes in memories, even
the ones that crash through calm sanity,
even when coastal city streets prepare for doom -
an image of a stranger sings as hard as cymbals.
Air is distorted. Shops are mute as seaweed.
Many are dead; many have never lived.
Among the new ghosts, one cries the deepest.
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