Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)

Driftwood - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

What struck me were her eyes.
When the first spark
discharged itself,
down at the docks
where I had gone
to look for
(the name did fit) ,
driftwood.

And there,
barefoot,
in shallow puddles,
the rising sun,
just stood,
as if befuddled
about the time.

And dusk had come
on silent soles
to take
its rightful place.

It was the perfect
and so timely
medium
to obscure
those salty tears,
that fell,
without a sound,
though hesitatingly
into the sea.

For one brief moment
I had forgotten
the purpose of
my being,
as well as of my
evening presence.
And as the darkness
with its grief
and promises
descended,
not unlike a blanket
I heard a melody
of words,
'almost as whispers,
making their
determined voyage
into the stillness
of that Horseshoe Bay.

An eagle called,
the sound of
Old Nainaimo.
It was an omen
not to be dismissed,
and with a rhythm
only Gods could
have created,
untiringly,
the sea
sent curly foam
onto the sand,
where toes
with chipped off
scarlet polish
were marking
their territory.

' It is my pooch',
she breathed,
'a terrier,
and surely
my only friend,
he has been gone
for seven days
and stormy nights.'

And thus, she had
for one long week
suspended all
reality,
and searched
with patience,
and great hope.
I asked her then
if she had prayed
to ascertain
the truth,
enlist the
helping hands
of Providence.

She nodded
with her eyes,
two jewels
of a sadness,
undescribable.
The word precarious
suddenly
rolled off my tongue,
and soon we searched,
between the
oily drums,
and under jetties.
So many miles
and hours,
the two of us.
And only Sadness
and Despair
for company.

We were the first
to greet the morning
as it rose
from misty waves,
urged on
by painful rays
of sunshine,
a smiling melancholy,
now bringing
unwelcome chill.

A seagull saw me
cover her
drooped shoulders
with my checkered,
all woolen winter vest,
which flashed
'Au Canada',
supported now
by ample breasts.

There was a tiny
and ridiculously
ramshackle,
Fisherman's Café,
near the old crane.
And welcome warmth
received us,
two unlikely lovers.
And after coffee
she thanked me,
briefly,
and absentmindedly
it seemed.
She had to leave.
I did not speak
to her,
not then,
not later,
and for that matter,
ever again.
I know, I know
but did not understand,
inside the chill
of that cold morning.

Important business
did occupy me,
until, again,
I thought of
collecting driftwood
by the sea,
to heat my cabin.

Outside the
Fisherman's Café
there was a crowd,
and some policemen.
They'd found a body,
washed ashore.
She must be,
so they reasoned,
a proud Canadian,
because Au Canada
was blazing
from her chest.
And when at last
they set the flimsy stretcher
down behind the van
marked Coroner
a very nervous
and hysterical
Jack Russell Terrier
was running circles
around the body.
It was disturbing
in its obvious confusion.
Though I'm not certain,
as I was totally unable
to see it all
through sudden drapes
of salty tears.


Comments about Driftwood by Herbert Nehrlich

  • (6/28/2005 6:35:00 AM)

    You are quite right to be proud of this one Herbert. It is lovely and moving and sad.

    I could picture every scene as I read the lines and felt the pain. I have two pooches that I love with all my heart and who (I know) love me too. I would be lost without them and they would be lost without me.

    Gyp's
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  • (6/27/2005 3:50:00 AM)

    Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant. Cheers.
    -war
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  • (6/27/2005 3:22:00 AM)

    I really like this tender side of you, Herbert. This is a touching, lovely piece and brought a tear to my eyes. Thanks.

    Raynette
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Poem Submitted: Monday, June 27, 2005

Poem Edited: Monday, June 27, 2005


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