THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2004

 
Pat Borthwick
SOUVENIR
 

I finger the sea-washed glass
in the souvenir ring you bought me
from the Cape Cod harbour museum.
With Provincetown's brick finger
bobbing behind, Nantucket far round,
we whale-watched, you
and the world's empty binoculars
tilted to starboard, me, alone on the decking
high over to port
and so close to those turning hulls
I could have reached over the gunwale
to touch their slow curves.
I was near to myself and them.
Each one, an entire heave of heaven.
Even the Tannoy missed them,
blarting instead about being out of luck
and the time of tomorrow's trips.
I heard the busy click of your camera
capturing eventless horizons to email home,
unaware of the moments I'd glimpsed
hauling millennia up through the surface,
comprehending even the planets
in one flash of their pinhole eye.
I kept my silence, knowing how you
could claim these great monuments from me.
As deliberate, the waves folded about their tonnage
before pouring them back into the sea's pewter bowl.

Later that night
the Atlantic burst through our door.
Tail flukes slapped on the ceiling.
You didn't stir. Your side of the bed stayed dry.
When you woke, you couldn't see wrack
hung from one half of the lightbulb,
a tern's forked feather afloat on my pillow.
A bottled up message adrift and addressed to you.
Or me, diving into the distance,
astride the arc of a gunmetal back.
A frilled salt-line on my unslept sheet.

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