Who goes to sea knows heart’s care. Groves blossom burghs grow fair meadows beautiful. World quickens. All things urge spirit to embark fare far by flood-ways though melancholy call of summer’s lord the cuckoo bode bitter heart-sorrow.
– Andrew McNeillie. excerpt from In the Wake of ‘The Seafarer’
The tour has only started when I’m ambushed by that flat-lined verdigris I’d know even as a stumbling sleepwalker: landschap with tin river, cleaver of sodden pastures —
marvelous for painters, says the docent, was the enormity of the sky, rarely cloudless, and she’s already turning to an Italian hillscape when I say wait! this is
my bloodstream, as my finger makes brief unintended contact with the canvas, and then my voice an ambulance I tell her there should be a diagram to indicate the grazing motion, how the grinding molars of the Holsteins make the river go —
or else, self-portrait in the glassing-over eye of a stickleback caged in a jam jar, left too long in the sun —
but now the river is across the room because the docent has ushered me toward an upholstered bench and is murmuring, sit, sit, I have here from the staff room a coffee, here you are —
and I’m making the gesture for no, those fields I ate and was made of live in me, uncloseable parentheses