The Manchester Review
Averill Curdy
Four Poems
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From cliffs the natives plummeted, sealing
Themselves within the frigid waters,

And if out of their throats unskeined
Bird-calls of grief, only the murres,

Who dove as if to show them their way
Through the waves’ corridors, heard.

Understand, like you, they chose to endure
Among the names, not vanish like steam

From another perfume, insipid ghosts
Confused by our hurry of instruments,

Honey, wool, & ginger jars. Returned
A year later the English found the island

Empty. Silence, like centuries’ heaped up
Solitude, and a world pallid as a patient

Bled by winter’s scurvy of light.
At first I can only suck at air. I feel

The men’s lungs, then, freezing like sails,
Intricate rigging of bronchioles & alveoli

Singed in hoarfrost. Chilblains greased
By soft, fat talk of wealth, they gave shape

To their dis-ease through those grey weeks:
Pease, corn, & grain around a stone house

Filled with knives, bells, glimmerglasses,
Whistles, and the oven, leaving the smell

Of bread to haunt the air as they sailed away
Holds heavy with fool’s gold, the vision,

Corrosive as salt that waits also for you:
In the winter night alone is this the sea to come?