The August Darks

Stealth of the flood tide, the moon dark
but still at work, the herring shoals
somewhere offshore, looked for
but not infallible, as the tide is,
as the August darks are—

stealth of the seep of daylight, the boats
bird-white above the inlet’s altering
fish-silver, the murmur of the motor
as the first boat slips out
ahead of daylight

into the opening aorta, that heaving
reckoning whose flux informs the heartbeat
of the fisherman—poor,
dark, fallible-infallible
handful of a marvel

murmuring unasked inside the ribcage,
workplace covert as the August darks are,
as is the moon’s work, masked within
the blazing atrium of daylight,
the margin of its dwindling

sanguine as with labor, but effortless:
as is the image, far out, illusory
at the dark’s edge, of the cruise ship
moving, seemingly unscathed by effort,
bright as a stage set

for the miming of the tiara’d swan’s danced
dying, the heartbeat’s prodigies of strain
unseen, the tendons’ ache, the bloodstained
toe shoes, the tulle
sweat- stained, contained

out where the herring wait, beyond
the surf-roar on the other side of silence
we should die of (George Eliot
declared) were we to hear it. Many
have already died of it.