By Stephen Edgar b. 1951 Stephen Edgar
In siftings of chromatic sediment
Shed by the winter hours as they decay,
With slow descent
Light settles through the lower sky in peach,
Then mauve, then pale self-abnegating gray
Against the water, now that day is spent
At Bennetts Beach,

Under the high withdrawing blueness, band
On band, like layers in a decorative
Bottle of sand,
Enclosed beneath the heavens’ dome, as though
This were the perfect realm in which to live,
Preserved, unburdened by the least demand,
Or wish, to know—

And simply be. Along the beach convene
Some silver gulls which stand around reflecting
Upon the sheen
That comes and goes about their scarlet feet,
And crested terns fly back and forth inspecting
The shallows for a last titbit to glean,
And lightly treat

A two-faced wind that works its way across
The metal of the sea it tries to planish
And to emboss,
While deep in its unbalanced buffetings
Gannets alternately appear and vanish,
Plunge, rise, and loft and give their heads a toss.
These things, these things . . .

What future, though, in that simplicity?
If the observer alters what’s observed,
Simple to see
The brilliant creatures may not long survive
Our scrutiny. And yet, what would be served
By aeons of extravagance to be
Merely alive,

Without the knowing eye, though its regard
Should bring to light what turns the world to stone?
Does the same hard
Attention that we boast of here abound,
Or has it been and gone among the starred
Immenseness—meaning we must fare alone,
Lost where we’re found?

Beyond Yacaaba Head towards the east
The colors harbored in that sediment
Have been released
And all the lower sky is banked with ash,
Dulled to gunmetal gray. In the event
The gannets, calling it a day, have ceased
Their white panache.

Only the sandhills, looking west, declare
A citrine wash that soon will vaporize
Into the air,
Like some faint exhalation breathed upon
The night, in which a flock of ibis rise,
As though they had a mind to follow where
The light has gone.

Source: Poetry (June 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2009
 Stephen  Edgar


Stephen Edgar was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied classics and English at the University of Tasmania and has worked as an editor and a librarian. He is the author of the poetry collections Queuing for the Mudd Club (1985), Ancient Music (1988), Corrupted Treasures (1995), Where the Trees Were (1999), Lost in the Foreground (2003), Other Summers (2006), and History of the Day (2009).   A lyric formalist, Edgar probes the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Animals

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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