Before the Mist
In Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses,
Whistler takes us to the edge of the world
where the land gives out and the sea
goes on and on right into the sky.
Here, along this margin, the air
manifests itself as mist,
as the planet itself exhaling
its hot breath over the cold ocean,
as Emerson’s oversoul cloaking all,
colour, shape, and light. Whistler
lets us stand and look out past seeing,
past the almost hidden sailboats,
past the white railing, past the three women
in their long dresses and full skirts,
each solid, each definite—grey and blue
and mottled green and yellow--
each anchored on this side of eternity.
Two turn at something the third has said
beneath her parasol, divert
their eyes to her pale round face,
to her words which mingle
with the mist. Far to their left,
maybe fifteen feet down the rail,
alone, one more woman floats,
the white bars showing through her.
Less visible than the distant
sailboats, she has already
begun to transcend herself,
to become more aeriform
than human, to loose herself
to the infinite expanse
of sea and sky and longing,
to escape our earthly frame.
Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English in California, where he wrote numerous memos, lesson plans, and the occasional poem. He has had a few poems published, mostly in English teacher magazines (English Journal and California English) and small literary magazines (Poem and Hiram Review).
The Ekphrastic Review
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