Friday, September 28, 2012

A George Oppen Poem (II)


Astrolabes and lexicons
Once in the great houses

A poor lobsterman

Met by chance
On Swan's Island

Where he was born
We saw the old farmhouse

Propped and leaning on its hilltop
On that island
Where the ferry runs

A poor lobsterman

His teeth were bad

He drove us over that island
In an old car

A well-spoken man

Hardly real
As he knew in those rough fields

Lobster pots and their gear
Smelling of salts

The rocks outlived the classicists
The rocks and the lobstermen's huts

And the sights of the island
The ledges in the rough sea seen from the road

And the harbor
And the post office

Difficult to know what one means
to be serious and to know what one means

An island
Has a public quality

His wife in the front seat

In a soft dress
Such as poor women wear

She took it that we came
I don't know how to say, she said

Not for anything we did, she said,
Mildly, 'from God'. She said

What I like more than anything
Is to visit other islands...


No comments:

Post a Comment