Maurice Harmon, The Last Regatta (2000)- Three Poems

“The Last Regatta”
Beside the tiny pool beside the house
I sometimes pause these late November days
to watch maple leaves flaring down

to clear water and there upheld awhile,
red incorrigible sails that seek and find
the slightest breeze for one final run.

Although no warnings here of gale-force winds
relay the ending of their carefree days
they are sinking slowly, water-logged,

and swirling gently, listing into silt,
minute pyres burning softly down.
It is a good way to go, trim

and tidy as they furl stricken sheets,
tighten lines, prepare for wet dock.
They’ve had their seasons and their seasons’ days,

have hoisted tapestries to catch the breeze,
have known beauty in this temperate place
where a stone lantern keeps constant watch.

They are ending passage now in their own way,
in their own time, untouched by human hand,
unhurried, unshaken, beyond the reach of man.

“Letter to My Daughter”
The cold up north drove them back at us.
They slithered across the path beside our feet,
burst through screens, breaking and entering.

The place so musty we slept on the gallery floor,
conscious of timber racked behind our heads,
of rustling, slitherings along the roof.

Silence stopped me when we came back here.
Sevenday locusts no longer had hysterics,
no longer blundered from the cherry trees.

Spider hammocks sagged like fallen floors
in disused rooms. Sated dragon flies
no longer rode with swallows or with bats.

When you told me your friend was dead,
that was the seasons final emptying,
good days drained, cold along the boards.

“The Return”
I sit by the pond
in the spell of ripple and fly

stand under trees
in the poignancy of leaves

lie offshore
in the fluency of stems

feel the stone’s tremor
in the drain of waves

see pitch and stress
in the spider’s web

find conclusions
in a grain of sand

discover an air
coldly sufficient

as the avenue of yew.

Source: Salmon Poetry website; copyright Maurice Harmon 2000