Poetry: The Sail and the Gannet | clivejames.com
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The Sail and the Gannet

A single sail,
Translucent apricot,
Drifts like a poppy’s petal on a frail
Breeze that is not—

A baby’s breath
Of air sparingly strewn
And eked out by the estuary’s width
All afternoon.

Lit from behind,
That fabric puts on show
What all of this, when the sun has declined,
Will undergo,

When like a dye
Extravagantly loosed,
Late saffron through blue river and blue sky
Will be suffused.

Hours that require
Only themselves. Suspended,
Division and the eye dissolve, desire
Almost is mended.

The close of day
Approaches: echelons
Of shade and light ascend the river, grey
And flooded bronze.

That sail’s no more.
And out of nowhere looms
One gannet, sweeping up and down the shore,
In the gold glooms

Seeking the day’s
Last fish. So swift it flies
And circles and returns, rushing to appraise
What underlies

Its beat, it brings
A darker note into
The scene, as though to match the darkenings
That drain the view.

Too fast its flight
(And slightly desperate
Before the urgings of the loss of light)
To concentrate

Its faculties
On fish, it can’t be seeing,
You feel—or it’s this shadowing it sees,
And is now fleeing.