Islands in Literature
November 7, 2022
At night the sea’s surface is the penetrable onyx of deep sleep.
I enter it without fear, as if to lower the input of the eye
reduces risk, and whatever I can’t presently see
exists only in memory, which has been calmed by the water’s
cold hypnosis, and to be here is impersonal. Only the moonlight
interrupts this near-nothingness, the play of it on the glossy swell
like a music you can feel, or like the mapping of something happening to me
on another level, something that can be understood so long
as it never finishes—and, when it finishes, there is nothing
left to understand. In the distance, other lights appear now
on the far side of the harbor, and, closer, the dull-white gull-like hulls
of a band of anchored boats rock softly, without intelligence.
Later, elsewhere, I remember it vaguely, and it feels like the most
meaningful way to go about it, as if the value of it grew
by resisting precision, and that, in coaxing particularity to glide from it,
the sea retained a unity unlike anything other than the sky
with which it had come to merge, but likewise it set itself outside
the reach of grammar, whose designs on it were not kind, and yet
what I mean by “it” isn’t even the sea anymore, but an experience
of the sea, which syllable by syllable I make the mistake of displacing.
This is drawn from “Chariot.”
Published in the print edition of the November 14, 2022, issue.