August’s Poem of the Month comes from Derek Mahon’s forthcoming collection Against the Clock
Night wind — a continual, baffled aspirate —
wanders the water like a vagrant spirit
seeking repose but there is no repose
till morning, when the tide withdraws
from exposed depths to the south-west
with its imaginary Islands of the Blest.
A straight line, wherever the edge may be,
confines and also opens up the sea
to ancient shipwreck, drowned forest,
lost continents and nuclear waste.
You hear a different music of the spheres
depending where you stand on these quiet shores.
Relatedly, beyond the blue horizon,
beyond the rising and declining sun
are more horizons, and among real waves
the line recedes to infinite alternatives
before the final hot sand or pack ice.
Nobody clears the same horizon twice.
Same thing with time. When you were twenty-one
you took it for granted you would die young
as genius should. Now that you’re seventy-five,
sails idly fluttering, but still alive,
you sit becalmed, imagining the many
horizons past and those to come, if any.
from Against the Clock (2018)
by Derek Mahon