after Georges Rodenbach
Water encloses the warm wind and nothing else,
silvering where it is purified, becomes glass.
Night, brief as the shadows of a tall tree
on the sun, does more damage to the water now.
The game fish fanning their fins, willingly
captive, listen through the glass to the world,
and no wind destroys their fragile universe.
Light plunges no longer for the reeds; birds
are reflected branches; stars are the diluted
face of Ophelia, an identity we hardly suspected.
The water here swarming with monsters at war,
and gravel bearing pink anemone.
Left to sink on the river, his eyes are stigmas,
sadly immense like the mirage of a willow.
His head was taken. Is this a flax field, is this
his hair? The green water, endless, branching,
melts his last tears at the beautiful eyes, dislodged
from flesh like two anemones, hair turned green
in the aquatic weeds. The lunar window is opening.
The sky deepens like a hothouse in silence.
The water, embroidered by the passage of a fish,
becomes charcoal quickly erased. Stillborn,
the fish fades into a mist. Pale and emaciated,
its fins are already stars in the aurora.
All they heard in the mud deposits:
life has grown aquatic. The entire fleet,
lost, faces the bottom. The eyes are little
tattooed fish in the tangle of the willow,
blind fish, capsized sleepwalkers, constantly
striving to keep their abyss from rising
to the surface. Still shivering, we do not know
what we laid eyes on. Something staggers
in this water. Sometimes, it resembles
somnambulists swarmed into silence.
It feels like caves where, without knowing,
some sleeper still wanders, or flowers, or swims.
Paul Vermeersch [photo credit: Patrik Jandak] is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Reinvention of the Human Hand, a finalist for the Trillium Book Award. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General's Gold Medal. His poetry has appeared widely in international publications. He lives in Toronto, Canada, where he is senior editor of Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan