John Constable on the edge of the Pacific

John Constable on the edge of the Pacific                         

for my late father

Chalk-white puffs and eggwhite cumulus billow with a little oil
steeping your sky, but the sea’s too blue and the horses too white.
Weymouth and Brighton submerge from view, papered over.
You sound exhausted on the phone, but happy to be home.
You’ve been discharged, there’s nothing more they can do.

The unstable ceiling has sieved a first coat of snow onto your lawn.
It’s all in the Bible: rivers, rain, incest, death, prophecy, but not
fading memories of childhood, cleaning our shoes Sunday evening.
Whiting doodle silver and shadow just out of reach beneath this honest
sky, landscape’s ‘chief organ of sentiment’ you liked to say.

I backstroke then float back to where I began. Did you love water
as much as air? Your loose impasto brushwork dances sunlight,
you wouldn’t find this ocean melancholy. Someone is lapping
the mouth, an anecdote, grand narratives need a healthy lifestyle.
How to nail the kind of attainment I’ve heard Buddhists talk of?


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