Full Fathom Five


Old man, you surface seldom.
Then you come in with the tide's coming

When seas wash cold, foam-


Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung,

A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves

Crest and trough. Miles long


Extend the radial sheaves

Of your spread hair, in which wrinkling skeins

Knotted, caught, survives


The old myth of orgins

Unimaginable. You float near

As kneeled ice-mountains


Of the north, to be steered clear

Of, not fathomed. All obscurity

Starts with a danger:


Your dangers are many. I

Cannot look much but your form suffers

Some strange injury


And seems to die: so vapors

Ravel to clearness on the dawn sea.

The muddy rumors


Of your burial move me

To half-believe: your reappearance

Proves rumors shallow,


For the archaic trenched lines

Of your grained face shed time in runnels:

Ages beat like rains


On the unbeaten channels

Of the ocean. Such sage humor and

Durance are whirlpools


To make away with the ground-

Work of the earth and the sky's ridgepole.

Waist down, you may wind


One labyrinthine tangle

To root deep among knuckles, shinbones,

Skulls. Inscrutable,


Below shoulders not once

Seen by any man who kept his head,

You defy questions;


You defy godhood.

I walk dry on your kingdom's border

Exiled to no good.


Your shelled bed I remember.

Father, this thick air is murderous.

I would breathe water.