Malcolm Cowley

Stone Horse Shoals - Poem by Malcolm Cowley

'TO wade the sea-mist, then to wade the sea
JL at dawn, let drift your garments one by one,
follow the clean stroke of a sea-gull's wing
breast-high against the sun;
follow a sail to sunward, slowly nearing
the lazy lobster boats at Stone Horse Shoals,
and pass them silent, on a strong ebb-tide
into an ocean empty to the poles.'

The tall man clenched his eyes against the world;
his face was gray and shook like a torn sail.
'I have lived,' he said, 'a life that moved in spirals
turned inward like the shell of a sea-snail.
I have been the shadow at the heart of shadows,
I have stared too many years at my own face;
on Stone Horse Shoals, among the lobster boats,
I will shed my carapace.

'Something will die there, something move and watch
its shadow fathoms downward on the sand,
summer and winter. In another season
another man comes wading to the land,
where other blossoms fade among the dunes
and other children. ... I am tired,' he said,
'But I can see a naked body climbing
a naked seacoast, naked of the dead,

'naked of language. There are signs inscribed
on stones and trees, familiar vocables;
I hope to rise out of the sea as white,
as empty and chalk-smooth as cockleshells.
And children digging naked in the sand
will find my shell and on it scratch new words
that soon will blossom out,' he said, 'and bear
new fruit, strange to the tongue of men and birds.'

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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