A Midnight Sun

In certain lights, these teeming cliffs, edging Iceland’s farthest flows of


Blur to mist above Atlantic sprays,

Seeming suspended from the tenuous line of summer grass

Where, with unsure feet, you stood your last ground.

This is where they come to rest their wings–

Giddy moths, glutted on the fruit of winter’s ocean.

But what unhoming instinct led you to this stark redoubt?

And what storms did you spark as you tore at the air?

How slow you fell!

Your first, salted gasp took you two thousand years

Past punctual strata, into Zeno’s time–

Each quickfire synapse second

Bursting the fractal cortex to a millennium

Of weathered infinitesimals.

Your awkward progress draws the gaze of wordless watchers,

Cacophonous and ink-stained on their ledger lines,

Gutting time with razor bills in ceaseless, changeless


While pagan nets unravel fraught to fraying ends.

Now the time for human life is passed,

You spiral on towards the invention of flight.

The ocean shall not have your borrowed atoms–

They hang, late as light from a long-gone star,

Casting photon semblances to tease the waiting waves.

And in a tangent time, when all our bow-and-arrow aeons are eroded

They will find you, strange stylite,

Edging down your stack of weathered air

In a state of asymptotic grace,

Rapt in contemplation of

A brief infinity,

And in your calming eye reflected

The midnight of a dying sun

Brooding over the waters

Finessing a world’s end

Set in its unsetting


Notes and comments

One of the conceits in this poem centres around Zeno’s paradox: the idea that the distance between two points can be infinitely halved so that the destination is never reached. The father imagines this happening to his daughter as she approaches the waves.

There are four birds hiding in the poem – I wanted the idea of the idea of flight trying to break through to the poem’s surface.

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