The ocean burns an old king.
A cliff, with its crazy, fledging guillemots,
surrounds every drifting boat all winter.
So I have dreamed my exiled Cynethryth.
She is translated like fire against the shore.
I have also dreamed her silence
crowding against the stars like the sun.
An orchard far away is a dancer at sunrise
where the jackdaws emerge from fog,
where bumblebees blather into the flowers,
and mice slip into the root knots and they feed.
Maybe Cynethryth has fetched dried apples
from last year’s harvest: starved things
can nibble through the sails towards England,
or she’s lifted them all from a song that fools
a sailor towards a storm. She dreams, I dream.
The ocean burns, gathers winter.
Dolphins, or mermen, or the skeletons
of Vikings, nothing else, this watery bread
for talking to the lords, stealing a snowflake,
hassling the wine-keep, favoring a knife
for kin folks, the ocean where it slants
the world into the mind: I find Cynethryth.
I find no other dream.
Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. He’s a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization with programs in North Carolina and Virginia.