from AURORA


aidan held his head in his hands
because to wish was to hope for the time to come,
for the place where the land ran to the sea;
and damienne meant more to him than his words could say;
or so he had told her once, and yet now on the still moving train she slept
and the tears
slipped into aidan's coffee, a pool forming, beneath his reflection -
i looked through the glass; his world turned;
damienne held the globe in her hands as she slept and the blue salt water of the ocean
became her dreams of aidan and of the man who might be;
had the world turned, stepped to her
damienne might not have wished, but to have hope for the future meant
i slept.
she dreamed;  his world shifted,
the world no more than the globe she held in her hand,
turning, blew
the candles out.
 
the dark came in the room, and the dreams of the land she had left: the dark cliff walls
ascending to blue -
i might have seen the lines, the green of a hillside, the place he knew;
as damienne knew her hands, her hair, the lines of her face; the sand and the sea;
his hands, his face, the lines, vines intertwined
time
flew past. damienne left the place where she had grown;
her face gathered into folds, the cloth of a dress pressed wet with tears.
hands turned on the clock face
damienne stacked the books on their shelves;
the candle flames shifted in the wind blowing through the window,
blowing the flames above the candles for another birthday cake,
marking the time, the stones covering a hillside -
where was she to go.
damienne -
the word formed as a cloud of steam, aidan's breath on a day when the cold cracked
brittle against his tongue;
his chest felt tight inside his jacket he raised his hand to loosen the shirt buttons
the words had formed clearly:
there was the man standing on the shore, his hair pressed to his head beneath the wind;
damienne standing in the shallow water,
her back beneath the full sun burning the beach sand.
 
damienne swam into the foaming waves, pushing the cold grains of sand beneath her feet,
her hair pulled through her hands and the salt dried against her face; the sun
dried her skin, her hair, the seaweed dried against the sand;
against the corrugated tree bark rough to the skin his back leaning against a tree
i had seen him once,
beneath his fingers the shell, the smooth pink of its spiral wound next to his ear,
and he could hear the sound of the waves.
 
the earth turned to the water, the man's gaze to the land;
damienne, walking; i followed them.
damienne smoothed her hair with her hands,
wet and dropping water onto the dry beach sand;
her auburn hair began to dry, the drops pushed from the long rope of hair
twisted between her hands.
her feet pushed through the thick crust of sand, sand ran between her toes,
her feet slipping until she walked on the wet hot sand -
beneath the waves she swam, a vine scratched her leg bled red the water beneath her belly
again the blood flowing.
 
there were no words for the way damienne's feet pushed through the beach sand,
or the man who had come to this place, a sailing ship; had he no history -
damienne placed another book on the shelf;
beneath her fingers the globe turning; she had sat on the still moving train
but before she had left the land where she had been born,
before aidan had spoken there had been this man whose feet anchored him to the earth;
damienne stood at the time when words still stood for him,
for what he had spoken to his wife -
he had watched damienne one day and the still
and sweeping
train
the still
and the motion had carried him, waves of water
washed
ashore to me.
 
to damienne there was the beach sand, the rise of the waves over the ocean floor,
the sand churning inside damienne felt the gold heat of the sun encircling her,
aidan's hands around her waist; before she left the land where she had been born,
walked on the beach sand;
her future stood empty;
against the tree corrugated bark snapped, the pupils of his eyes black,
the signs came, she said, for the mourners to sing above yet another grave
and aidan had walked by himself from the sand into the sea.
save him, then.
someone said: there was nothing to be done for them -
on the day she finally left, damienne turned her back on the water, the sea had soothed her;
and the sadness that the earth had trapped her came to her at last;
and aidan -
in the freeze of one of the longest winters, damienne stacked books on the library shelf.
the books were stacked; the sky through the window showed black.
damienne wore black tights, a sweater; she had tied back her hair.
between books, the pages she turned;
the solid stone of the ring had been set, after candace, aidan's eyes met hers,
the tranquil green.
 
the sea had turned green too beneath the storms,
like the green of the bottle in which the ship was set;
damienne pulled down the window shades at the library,
turned off the lights - locked the door to the library and walked home.
the countries in books mapped by the boundaries circling;
the books sat beside her desk, and she packed them in a cloth bag
before riding her bicycle to aidan's house; the stories were told
her eyes holding blue to the yellowing pages, beneath the lamplight, the translucent skin
the veins mapping her hands, her face;
the times changed; damienne saw this by reading the books;
aidan looked out the window to the season's changing weather,
the waves rolling to shore -
 
damienne's hands pressed to her face; weaving, vines intertwined
and through the forest she could see, his eyes turned to the cloud rolling sky dropped gray
rain tears formed the valleys of the hillside -
the valley changed. the hills grew wet from rain,
and on her bicycle damienne pushed through the mud clotted road;
pushed the hair from her eyes.
damienne knew through the seasons changing
that the time would come when she would know him well,
though he had spoken little to her on the edge of the sand and the sea.
the time was not hers to hold; her vision turned to the future and she wished -
beneath her skin blood pulsed, the folding currents arrived on the beach where damienne walked 
the season's water fell from sky to dry sand.
the earth crust split.
 
there was nothing in the room but the sound of his breathing,
the slap of an ocean wave on the sand had sounded once, and then again.
the slap of the sea on the sand.
the white waves pulled back to the body of water the earth pulled back to the sand.
the ocean -
her hair.
the lines were there: they marked the tree bark and the cracks grew wide;
the bark divided, the uneven surfaces rough to damienne's hand.
watching: the man stood on the sand,
he walked along the sand and raised a shell to his ear, his lips parted,
the mass of waves curled up to his toes, the water's white foam reached him -
my binoculars focused. a butterfly; the net lay empty-handed, not hovering but lying flat,
the net's weave becoming enmeshed in the sand - did a corner of a page turn under
the wind, under the sand.

 

      Carolyn Hart 2009