A summer poem



Driftwood


Sea air heals, fills lungs ozone rich and fresh with hope
So profound it pulls me far from this place in search.
Solace sought on this lonely shore as waves sand stroke
Ancient beats, such symphony as was heard in Greece –
Far Poseidon melodies sang for wading youths.

Brine swirls, soaking calves, ease brought as old bones flex strength,
Time once ice-stiff melts away in warm ocean tides
Age-old fears dissipate – reflected, weakened, solved.
Deep dreamtides ebb and flow, sea currents raise lost needs.
He moves, easeful on green-grey rips, swims to surface.

Proteus dries in the breeze, warming on boulders, beached
We eye each other, gaze sidelong as Apollo
Holds two souls in his gold aegis. Chance before me,
Too late I turn, but bare stone shelf is bleak display:
The bold seal herder dives, he is gone, my mistake.

Day slowly drags, sun fades along with my scant hopes.
Heat fails to touch ash future, sadness drowns all gains,
Harpy doubts snatch at joy, fouling this blind man’s mind.
Fierce light may not reveal change, yet soft moon love shows,
Saline darkening, seal-hide ripples, water breaks.

Night reigns. Heat stirs his veins to pulse, lids open wide,
He smiles, my lips wet, part, respond with sleeper’s hope.
Need grows, tasting of seaside holidays: salt-sweet
Beneath the sun, where seas hide hungers rising at
Moon tide to walk upon beaches where sailors dream.

Vast Poseidon, Nerites soft lips recalls ripe,
So I lay in this name-free lad’s embrace, was he
Weed-wrapped sage transformed, made lithe and honeyed skin glazed?
Maybe he was that Sea Lord’s lover, freed from shell?
Tonight he is here, I wake ~ an end to dull sleep.


This poem is written in an Ancient Greek metre, the lesser asclepiad, which was primarily used for erotic and sensuous poetry. Proteus was a sea deity known for frequent shape-shifting, and regarded as having special patronage over seals. In this respect he curiously echoes the selkies of Celtic mythology. Nerites was a lover of Poseidon who, in one version of the story, was transformed into a shellfish (possibly a sea snail) by a jealous rival

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