[There is a pigeon, a boy and a captain on deck.]
Auger in to the night, beating of wings,
And feather the oils of your sleek gray
Span to taste upon the ozone and growl
Of the air; sample the midnight beyond
Human sight and return for my promise
Of these tiny biscuit crumbs cradled in
The palm of the child who dotes the ruffle
Of your captive plumage, whispering words
Devoted – as only a child could be –
To the ugliness of your pigeon eye.
Do this duty, shackled beast, or break
Beneath the drown of ocean with severed
Wing: my captain’s boot brings swift justice to
All. Fly forth and return us the knowledge:
Return and so tell to stay the course, or
Be swallowed by lonely terror and so
Tell that the direction of the winds
We gather in our stretched trim must alter.
Boy, auger this bird in to the black night!
Yestreen, Master, recall the ashen light!
We saw the new Moon with the auld Moon
In her arms, cradled pregnant with winter
Storms soon to deliver their mighty wrack.
Hasten not my sweet friend on wings of death.
You know as good as I, Master, you feel
The chill salt in each lash of wave spitting
Its anger across the cedar beams. Rage
Whips a wet fury too vast for the spears
Of land to continue the plough of their
Wood journey – our floating moment shall
Soon sink. Even the shadows of us will
Vice in the crush of the azure maw.
I beg of you, Master, do not send this
Bird that knows only bobbing and cooing
Into the storm. She is my friend, and I
Would ask you to let me die with her
Held close to the weak beating of my chest.
You know as good as I, Master, that the
Ocean thirsts for our doom with deadly storm.
O Master of Ships, wisest of Captains,
You know as good as I: when the nameless
Deeps silt the dry of their inner throat with
Mad hungers, only human death will slake.
Lo! That sound you hear, the illumination
That jaggeds blue, pale and electrical?
It is the thunders and lightnings of swift
Murder drawing near: the heavens bear rust
And ruin in the brutal arc of sky’s
Dripping scythe – it reaps for satisfaction,
Gathers upon us, fragile blades of grass,
Midnight with supernatural intent.
You know as good as I the doom that bays
Between us: I can scant hear myself speak.
Flagellations from solid barbs of wind
Seek to flay my voice to but lonely threads;
I scream and yell myself great to plea for
Both of our lonely souls. I beg of you,
Abandon your captain’s hat and open
Your arms: to everything public, speak
Your love; to everything secret, rope
Gentle acknowledgment with wreathes of soft
Feeling – sound your welcome and I promise,
O Master, that the secret love hiding
On this ship will gather sunlight in your
Heart like the bell-rope gathers God
In the morning. Abandon the hardness
Of the commander’s exterior: give
No battle tears to this final hour;
Give caterwauling tears as you shed pride
And dignity to praise the secrecy
Lurking in your heart; bend in shame
Before your inner truth and gather like
The morning. You know as good as I,
Master, that the bottom of the sea is
Cruel; yet before we cross all of our bright
In to an embrace too dark, encompass
With hands of flesh: O but gather and song
Your mourning – all my secrets will respond.
This would be a shame that is no disgrace,
A sorrow that, O Master, is not sad.
If not this, then but leave me my pigeon:
I would not go alone to the deeps’ rend,
Nor should this faithful and so tiny bird.
And you know this as good as I.
My captain’s boot brings swift justice to all.
O Master, lift your captain’s boot from my
Throat; give me more voice, let me fill your ears
With the unvalved tones of my full meaning.
I do not betray you: I would never
Bring you harm – I would ruin myself first.
O Master, lift your captain’s boot and rest
Your heel on the wild of my heart: there pounds
The scale of true measure, warm and vital,
And it will warm even through the leather
Of an unfeeling captain’s murder boot.
Rest violence against the song of the world,
Master, and then speak with true justice.
I splay my throat for the execution;
I present my heart with execution.
O feel my meaning, my captain love.
[Captain kills Boy.]
Auger, foolish pigeon, and remember
The death of this boy as you die – futile.
[Pigeon flies in to the night.]
To learn so from the beat of innocent
Wings, the chill of my captain’s boot. Come, black
Wet, this lonely deck more cruel than the sea.
I feel nothing as the broken drown.