from this to that, by Eamon Grennan

I get goose bumps every single time I read this. The imagery, both through the word-painting (flap-flee, blackwhitewhiteblack) and the descriptions (the lime-green toupees of weed the near rocks wear, the surprised cormorant) is absolutely stunning.

From This to That

Stepping overboard from the dream-laden vessel of sleep–
its cargo of foreign tongues, sunsplit stones of Italy, one
colored bundle of kindlewood, and the music of God knows who
played on the French horn by the poet’s only daughter–

you walk awhile by the actual tide-line, the ocean drawn back
to expose sea rocks colonized by purple-painted tribes
of young mussels, where three oystercatchers grown hysterical
at the frightful sight of you leave their lethal business

among the molluscs and flap-flee over the waves in baffling
blackwhitewhiteblack Escher flashes. You attend, then,
to the lime-green toupees of weed the near rocks wear, take in
the shoreline glint of scabious and coltsfoot, the quick ignitions

of a few leftover leaves of pink thrift, see one short-masted
black trawler riding the waves, and spot the head
and periscoped neck of a cormorant as it vanishes
between breaths, reappears, and looks about as if surprised

to find the world as is–sky, sea, the rugged bulk of Mweelrea
keeping one from the other–as you yourself look about, minding
the seabird’s amphibian gift to live underwater and in air,
to stand on its isolate perch in the wingspread very image

of a black phoenix rising. So stumble on to true wakefulness,
all dreams dissipated, and stop silenced on a seal-smooth rock
half-buried in sand, knowing nothing but the burden of
what you’ve seen, weighing the simple specific gravity of it,

the jag-line heading from this to that, before you turn for home.

4 Responses to “from this to that, by Eamon Grennan”

  1. December 23, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I love the part about the purple-painted tribes of young mussels.

  2. December 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm


    “…knowing nothing but the burden of what you’ve seen…”

    engaging, interesting.

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