Out east, I come back under the spell of sky and sea,
Transformed by their mysterious alchemy
Through the shifting shapes of sand and stones and shells
Until I am walking along the same shores
I walked along when I was young,
Suspended in the effervescence of sound and air and light.
I remember listening to the music in the waves
In the Sound, chanting its hypnotic incantations
Into a poetry like that of sailboats,
Somehow moving, coming to life
Out of the wind's invisible script,
Reaching and reaching across the stretched distance
For mysterious shorelines I could not make out.
Those beautiful schooners that I saw there,
Racing the Sound in their long, wide tacks,
Seem to be still out there, somewhere,
The 'Harmony' and the 'Magic'
Capturing the unfathomable craft of movement
In which white sails do the names justice,
Carrying me away as they pass out of sight
And into a place and a time of dreams.
I never wanted to leave that place.
And so I still stand here, all afternoon,
Caught up in the magical flight of the gulls,
Watching white sails giving shape to the wind,
Dreaming of lighthouses with the ghosts of their light keepers,
Islands left out to themselves;
Beautifully mysterious in the beckoning distance.
This poem is about one of my favorite places in the world, the east end of Long Island; a place that always seemed magical to me, a place of the magic of distance, of distances in time, and a suspended quality of experience. The sailboats are a metaphor for the imagery of poetry, the sight of them, a symbol of the creative spirit that you reach out for and try to articulate, without quite being able to capture it in words. It remains mysterious, elusive, like the Harmony and the Magic still sailing out there, beyond the islands, beyond the lighthouses, in the memory of the dead light house keepers. estory