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Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Even the Gulls of the Cool Atlantic

by Joan Murray (1917-1942)

The gulls of the cool Atlantic tip the foam.

The boats that warn me of fog warn me of their motion.

I have looked for my childhood among pebbles, and my home

Within the lean cupboards of Mother Hubbard and neat Albion.

A wind whose freshness blows over the cape to me

Has made me laugh at the thought of a friend whose hair is blond.

Still I laugh and place my hands across the sea

From the farthest stretch of lands to the end of the end.

I had so often run down to these shores to stare out.

If I took an island for a lover and Atlantic for my sheet,

There was no one to tell me that loving across distance would turn about

And make the here and now an elsewhere of defeat.

In my twenty-first year to have the grubby hand and slums,

Be the small child at my knee, my knee the glistening chalk

That sails to meet the stationary boat, the water sloping as it comes,

And all the Devon coast of grey and abrupt rock.

By gazing across water I have flicked many gulls from my eyes,

Shuffled small shells and green crabs to my feet.

The day is cool; the sun bright; the piper cries

Shrilly, tempering the untouched sand in delicate retreat.

Up beyond the height and over the bank, I have a friend.

How is your winter night and your summer action?

There need be litte more than a teacup hour to make us both comprehend

A mature man's simplicity or grave child's sweet reaction.

"Here We Stand Before the Temporal World," also by Joan Murray.

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