Quartermaster at the Wheel

by Malcolm Lowry

Malcolm Lowry

The Harkness light! Another hour spelled out,
Struck by myself with unction but with doubt.
A man is killed but does not hear the shot
Which kills him; four bells kills me.
Lucky to hear it jf I killed myself,-
Whose age haunts calendars upon the screen;
The heroine horn in nineteen eighteen,
Who yesterday was born in nineteen eight.
A pile of magazines assess dead love
On shore, where one light burns no love will wait.
-Past years are volcanoes beyond the wake,
Tomorrow is the sea and then the sea,
To both least faithless when we most forsake,
The one unsealed, the other vomltless
Of Jonah to his gourd or Nineveh ....
It is a straw to tickle bloodshot eyes
Of quartermasters soldered to darkness,
The stiff wheel and the remembrance of the drowned,
For sinking men to suck at or to claw,
The thought that what we saw we often hear
Too late or not at all, or cannot bear
To know resounding eardrums register ...
Our siren now! What ugliest ship has not
Borne heart from heart with that deep plangency,
Sadder than masthead's light, a soul
In mourning whose voice is grief gone by.
Roll on, you witless, dark brown ocean, roll,
And light light years and grey ones let us live
Within that gracious nexus of reprieve
Between the fated sight and fatal sound
- Now leave the world to Harkness and to me.

Last updated September 29, 2022