A Swim in Co. Wicklow

The only reality is the perpetual flow of vital energy.
                                                                           —Montale

Spindrift, crustacean patience
and a gust of ozone,
you come back once more
to this dazzling shore,
its warm uterine rinse,
heart-racing heave and groan.
 
A quick gasp as you slip
into the hissing wash,
star cluster, dulse and kelp,
slick algae, spittle, froth,
the intimate slash and dash,
hard-packed in the seething broth.
 
Soft water-lip, soft hand,
close tug of origin,
the sensual writhe and snore
of maidenhair and frond,
you swim here once more
smart as a rogue gene.
 
Spirits of lake, river
and woodland pond preside
mildly in water never
troubled by wind or tide;
and the quiet suburban pool
is only for the fearful —
 
no wind-wave energies
where no sea briar grips
and no freak breaker with
the violence of the ages
comes foaming at the mouth
to drown you in its depths.
 
Among pebbles a white conch
worn by the suck and crunch,
a sandy skull as old
as the centuries, in cold
and solitude reclines
where the moon-magnet shines;
 
but today you swirl and spin
in sea water as if,
creatures of salt and slime
and naked under the sun,
life were a waking dream
and this the only life.

 

Derek Mahon, "A Swim in Co. Wicklow" from New Collected Poems .  Copyright © 2011 by Derek Mahon.  Reprinted by permission of The Gallery Press.
Source: New Collected Poems (The Gallery Press, 2011)
More Poems by Derek Mahon