The Twain

  

On the east coast facing east -

On a west coast facing west -

 

It is not ocean that separates

where nothing can happen but

closure, transition in flight

or afloat, the bridging of gaps

by the famished and fugitive

from blighted crops and die-hard dogma,

with continents, long deluged,

forging a link in the chain

while billows from the opposite shore

recoil from teasing display,

arc high, gathering momentum

and, in a blue-green crescendo

that flares with diamond spume,

crash on the jagged Celtic

littoral of the British Isles

in unbridled exultation.

 

It is not ocean that cleaves...

 

But the seething earth which parts coast

from coast, a landlocked tempest.

Gold-seekers congregate to plot

exploitation of its wealth

and mark out territory, asserting

the right to proliferate

and consume with wanton pride,

inventing exclusive customs,

speaking in cabbalistic tongues

with a multiplicity

of idioms, cadences, inflections,

arranging an estrangement,

occasioning all manner of obstacles

which demand rites of passage

in a bid to conquer tribe and canyon

as they push 'from sea to shining sea'.

 

It is not ocean that cleaves...

 

I hear the echoes in your voice,

as in a seashell singing of its element,

of King Arthur and Tintagel,

of Patrick, Fingal and Columba

and, yes, oh yes, of Camelot!

You breathe the mellow iambs

of my ancestral past, the snapshot phrases

and close-fashioned tones of our Mendips,

Quantocks, Exmoor and Dartmoor,

where cream tastes of the world to come

and the blossom is of cider apples

rather than the cherry tree. The wooden presses

creak and leak and flow with the memorial elixir

of the Old Country,

allowing one thousand leagues of sea

to be forded in a single heartbeat.

 

It is not ocean that cleaves...

 

On the east coast facing east -

On a west coast facing west -

 

Title poem from The Twain, Poems of Earth and Ether