Gerald Mangan: Leaving Dieppe
The white ship hums. The deckhands in oilskins
coil up the last of the line,
and the bluster of the Channel on the front
shakes me awake. Beyond the breakwaters,
in the first light, I cross the threshold
where France becomes your face.
As the gulls fall back, and the heaving deck
acts out the turmoil of leaving,
I hold on hard, at the stern-rail,
to that last wave you gave:
the way it fell, as the guard whistled,
and you pressed a kiss to the glass.
Ta langue m'a entrée, my love:
your tongue is still on my lips.
What do I gain by this translation
through water, into a cold horizon?
The prow dissolved in spume
is your breast in its froth of lace,
and every thought's a feather's weight.
Thrown from wave to wave, through
bottomless troughs, they leave me
nothing to declare but this.
Not a word seems worth your touch,
or calms me, like your calm embrace.