Empress: A Survivor Contemplates

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A Survivor Contemplates
the Crucifix on the Point
Ste. Luce-sur-mer

Christ of the Rocks
hanging here on the point
from the crucifix
with your open eyes:

do you see, out at sea,
where gray waves cover
the graveyard of the Empress,
at rest, her passengers,
caressed beneath shallow waters.

They have gone on before me,
those friends I numbered,
their piercing eyes
lie covered now.

Splayed toes:
last night’s footprints
erased by wind-blown
dust and sand.

 Dry crunch of skull and skeleton
crushed underfoot by sea boots
ascending, descending
the beach’s gentle slope.

Unknown,
these lands around me:
emitte lucem tuam /
send forth Thy light!

 Unexplored,
these mountains that surround me:
ipsa me deduxerunt /
such things have led me on.

 Unsolved,
these mysteries that confound me:
in montem sanctum tuum /
unto Thy holy hill …
in nomine Patris /
… in the name of the Father.

 I wander from grave to grave,
reading the headstones:
quare me repulisti? /
why hast Thou cast me off?

Coarse grass weaves bindweed
with columbines combining.

Incessant mourning of glove grey
morning doves,
drawing tears from dawn’s face:
quare tristis incedo? /
why do I go sorrowful?

 Verdant stems,
unsophisticated flowers,
weeds dark between stark
granite stones.

 Names!
Whose names?
My long lost brothers’ names,
Eric, Phillip, Peter,
not yet carved in stone:

 non in tabernacula tua /
not yet in Thy tabernacle.

 This churchyard,
will it always be
as steady as a headland
even in a storm?

 Here, the terrestrial
centre is stable:
quare tristis es, anima mea? /
why art thou sad, oh my soul?

 The ark on the waters
moves from side to side,
lulled by the sea waves,
up and down.

 On the altar,
a gilded chalice,far from the far flung
malice of the sea:
quare conturbas me? /
why dost thou disquiet me?

Empress: Graveyard on the Point

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Graveyard on the Point:
A Survivor Remembers his Catechism
Ste. Luce-sur-mer

The survivor at the cross roads,
wreathed in his personal storm:

et discerne causam meam /
… and distinguish my cause

de gente non sancta… /
from the unholy nation.

Rising waves:
bells on buoys
peal out sea warnings.

Tonight there is a grief across the grève.

Sa griffe / his claw,
ma griffe / my claw
homophonic puns

scratching at reality’s surface,
hiding inner meanings,
leaving the depths unplumbed.

Did he really paint
the reality of the shipwreck,
this Magritte?

 Cette pipe, qui n’est pas une pipe! /
This pipe which isn’t a pipe!

Mi grito que no es un grito! /
My cry which isn’t a cry!

Cette vie qui n’est plus une vie!
This life which is no longer a life!

This littoral bay
no longer a literal bay.

ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me /
from the unjust and deceitful man deliver me.

Over bird frosted rocks,
a ring billed gull cries out whose name
on its early journey to greet pale stars?

 On the beach at the cross’s foot,
a grey robed pilgrim

stands in dusk’s failing light.

et introibo ad altare Dei:
ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam
/

and I will go unto the altar of God:
to God, who giveth joy to my youth.

Mouettes, göelands muets:
sea gulls, silent sea gulls:
white arrows shot over sea wet sand.

He stands solemn before this graven stone
waiting to be blessed:

 sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper /
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be …

The eider duck sigh for their siblings,
tossed from the crèche and lost
in the long low swirl of the sea.