With Linnea in the South of France
The wind blew hot today; it blew my skirt—
it whipped my skirt, but not as at Les Baux.
Back then the denim flapped a furious code
into the Val d’Enfer, those craggy
hills, a giant’s rotted teeth.
Linnea stood atop the highest battlement
all of fifteen.
The wind blew hot in
Bezier and we slept naked
on the floor, ignorant of scorpions,
me filled with local wine.
We’d spent the day at the menhir
near Minerve, along Canal du Midi.
Arles and Olargues, Sommeil
and Nimes, Aigue Morte—all towns
of consonants and dissonance, all
chalk-white in the southern sun,
so hot the wind,
no fans to be found.
And in St. Remy, where Van Gogh
slept in his madness at the Saint Paul hosptial
and among the Roman
ruins, the wind blew hot.
As today, before the storm, bringing intimations
of lost time--
Linnea, framed against the dark blue sky.
I think of Eliot, childless, writing “Marina,”
writing what he could not know:
This form, this face, this life.
What images return,
O my daughter.
Marina - T.S. Eliot
Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?
What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands What water lapping the bow And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog What images return O my daughter. Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning Death Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning Death Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning Death Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals, meaning Death Are become insubstantial, reduced by a wind, A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog By this grace dissolved in place What is this face, less clear and clearer The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger— Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the eye Whispers and small laughter between leaves and hurrying feet Under sleep, where all the waters meet. Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat. I made this, I have forgotten And remember. The rigging weak and the canvas rotten Between one June and another September. Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own. The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking. This form, this face, this life Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken, The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships. What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers And woodthrush calling through the fog My daughter.