V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




In his weathered punt he paddles out—
old man pulling back water,
the clouded Thames water. He knows
this current, its swirls and backflows,
how the tide tugs at Traitor’s Gate,
climbs Wapping House stairs,
how the sea calls it home.

All day his mind is filled with swans,
the Queen’s swans, their plumes
billowing beneath Tower Bridge,
arcs and curves on black water.
For them he dips oars into each new day,
letting mist into his bones.

How he loves to herd and mark them
trapping their fullness between bent arm and rib
as if those royal heartbeats could liven his own.
Around him, river music rises,
winch-groan and clang of shipyards,
gulls yawk and clatter.

When sunset draws him back again
to the solid shore, he takes this music
home with him to fill his sleep
as the swans fill his sleep, their wings
a flurry through the long night—
as though anyone could keep them.


© by Patricia Fargnoli


Contributor's note
Next page
Table of contents
VPR home page

[Best read with browser font preferences set at 12 pt. Times New Roman]