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.