Landfall - Poem by Tony Jennett
Moaning its broken-voiced bull-with-a-hangover wail,
Blinking its tired dim rheumy bloodshot eye
The landfall buoy porpoises past; rusting, weed-clung, pale
Port watchdog, un-tail-wagging under a sky
Light-sucking black and spitting pitiless tears,
Rinsing the spirit from the glass of hopeful years.
Mist-wraiths dance a slothful saraband through the shrouds
Unheard, felt not seen, in the binnacle's ghostly glow
As the ship halts, lifts, and, sliding the scend, crowds
Alone forward, hesitant lover, toward the low
Blacker-on-black line of the mole. Unloved and unlit
The entrance gapes empty, the mouth of The Pit.
No light from the shore. No light from the ship can fill
The darkness. No answer to hail. No welcoming call
As, drawn on by the glutinous kiss of the swell; still
Echoing the voice of the sea on the harbour wall;
The ship still-berths, fendered by flotsam, pelf overdrawn
And drained of all will in the grudging grey of dawn.
Force the sea-slothful muscles to conquer the ladder,
Drive the muzzy-brained head past the rim of the dock.
Fire the salt-crusted eyes to burn gladder or madder
And rake through the emptiness, numbed by the shock
Of cold shoulder. Here lies homecoming: arctic disdain
Unfeeling and cold as the kiss of the rain.
Tight-shuttered and rotting, the houses stand weeping,
Grey stone turned steel-black in the grizzling light
And the unstirring heart of the town is not sleeping
But dead in the walls of the pub's peeling white.
No tern-call, no gull-cry, just obdurate silence
Chilling the soul with its ear-scouring violence.
Cast off Flying Dutchman. Return to your wandering
Sail to the sea's rim and fall off the earth.
No farewell will follow you, raging and squandering
Your vainglorious death on the sea's heaving dearth.
Your one page of history, scarce worth a flip
Was fragile and brief as the wake of your ship.
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