Kevin John Mangan
Old Lamanche - Poem by Kevin John Mangan
The path was uneven and washed out,
storms we never witnessed left narrow mucky faults
spiderwebbing into the ramshackle stones.
The flashlight beam searched the rise and fall of its way,
serpentine and hard, high and low roads of granite as it
meandered past time etched rockface, then onto the valley meadows.
On one of those grass topped knuckles of rock a fire burned erratically,
a nest of flaming snakes, the steady orange glow
erupting in fits of crackling spark; red then golden, then just up-white stars.
It felt safe outside the scope of its light to retreat to the wooded
moonlit path, to the valley. Sitting on our perch of cable
and wood, spanning the gorge, like the sinew and bone
of some levithans back, we took in the sight of past ravages
beneath. The gray stumps of simple salt-box houses,
an outport mortar of beachstone and rough cement
stood naked against the prowling weed and alder.
I saw water swirling inside the foundation, an angry
model sea sloushing boots, cups, dolls, people around
in a tumult; breaking it all against the limits of their own labour.
Not enough men were harvested hauling nets and
rounding spiteful points, as it went, to quell Posiden's hunger.
So the children, the women, the weak and old too all
lined up and gone then in a foraging deluge.
I shuddered, sipped from the wine bladder with
my right hand, held you tighter with my left.
Safe on the bridge in La Manche overlooking
the uncovered sepulchures moaning darkness below.
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