Two Poems

Gerard Fanning

Tate Water

If you ask how a colour might come about
consider the enigma of water determined by sky,
and by water I don’t mean pool or rain barrel
but the wide expanse of sea or lake.
As with all things, this will depend
on where and when you look
because water absorbs light, and sea water
absorbs the larger truths of late evening
greater than the timid blue of morning.
So if sunlight entering the sea is filtered
until mainly blue and then scattered back
to the observer above, which could be you
dawdling on cliff or private promontory,
then like you, a stain of light depends on impurity
just as your purplish skin for cold or bruise
like a Döppler note, brightens and passes and fades.
And if pine lakes deliver a bluish tinge,
remember in that water, increasing salts or acids
can make of the scattered light a trawl from pale
yellow to darkish brown and when peat is washed
down, sunlight may lose itself, cannot scatter
and the lake becomes black. I can tell you,
impasto giving weight, how to make a profession
of mute things, but remain at a loss to figure
how the weight of water can be so sinister.

Newfoundland Time

Round the planting of the Gort Oak
the true magnetic poles began a variation.
Ignoring the jolt of our millennium
they reclined briefly in the Pacific Ocean
down near the island of Guam.
But when they cradled the spine of Siberia
they passed all understanding, only to emerge later
in the belly of King William Sound.

On my aimless navigations of the midland
and western bypasses, sleek asphalt
like a black stream among saplings,
I can gain a half-hour of daylight
like the half-hour I mislaid
when I once crossed from Nova Scotia
into the bosom of Newfoundland.
So when I recite the litany of true verticals
I can realign and slip through the fissure
that folds back, not at the open field,
or at the forest, but at the border between.