Wednesday, April 1, 2020

You Will Know When You Get There by Allen Curnow

You Will Know When You Get There

Nobody comes up from the sea as late as this
in the day and the season, and nobody else goes down

the last steep kilometre, wet-metalled where 
a shower passed shredding the light which keeps

pouring out of its tank in the sky, through summits, 
trees, vapours thickening and thinning. Too

credibly by half celestial, the dammed
reservoir up there keeps emptying while the light lasts 

over the sea where ‘it gathers the gold against
it’. The light is bits of crushed rock randomly

glinting underfoot, wetted by the short 
shower, and down you go and so in its way does

the sun which gets there first. Boys, two of them, 
turn campfirelit faces, a hesitancy to speak

is a hesitancy of the earth rolling back and away
behind this man going down to the sea with a bag

to pick mussels, having an arrangement with the tide,
the ocean to be shallowed three point seven meters,

one hour’s light to be left, and there’s the excrescent
moon sponging off the last of it. A door

slams, a heavy wave, a door, the sea-floor shudders.
Down you go alone, so late, into the surge-black fissure.

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