Four Poems by David Troupes

Ayios Pandeleimon 

 

No rain, no rain, though still the earth 

wants and tries to give 

 

by the open palm of this tree: 

an olive: barren, 

 

nearly barren, as the sun 

drops its bombs and even the chapel 

 

cheeked with fresco and hearted with a well 

has been locked. At the open taverna 

 

the owner sits, smoking, asking us questions, eyeing our mouths 

like a wise raven. Vines upon the oak 

 

slowly sunward soar, 

unaware, miming in the dry air 

 

a fountain, a pool. Every slope 

is stippled with olive trees, 

 

vineyards, citrus and hope: in the small kitchen garden 

a black bumble works 

 

and rakes the clover:

not yet over, the world is not yet over. 

 

 

Acadia

 

You are dead, Lenka. We climbed in sunlight, 

do you remember, pathless, 

up the slope of that minor mountain of Acadia, 

pine pollen and summer lungs, to that shelf 

over the sea 

where the Atlantic threw us its blue. Wind 

fell landward like new gravity

so we tilted ourselves, and stood 

different upon the world, 

dilating our limbs to the God-picnic of ocean 

and islands, the splitting smear 

of fog, panopticon temple of light and land. 

This was fourteen years ago. Lenka,

every year a fear 

arrives with the warmth, 

in May or June – the first hard walls of sun, 

blossom and blackbirds in attendance –

a kind of sadness that anything 

should exist at all, everything lost 

yet nothing finished, as summer 

in spite of winter 

proceeds. Speaking this fear 

changes nothing. 

Nor does admitting the needlessness, 

the self-betrayal – as if for nothing

my unsinkable affection for the world, 

my inhuman romances of swamp. But not our day 

in Acadia, standing 

hands up, fingers out, cheap trophies for the sky, 

so that in us 

all the empty rooms of the earth were at rest. 

Rain today hands me back to myself. Lenka 

you are dead, and every year 

we are remade, drowning 

in a kind of milk. 

 

 

Pemaquid

 

We passed through Damariscotta without stopping – a slurry 

of heat and summer crowds, 

waterless port town – and drove on to Pemaquid, where 

like everything else 

the tourists were thinned out, pared down, rawed 

by a rasp of sun and salt wind, 

dragging their exhaustion

to the picnic tables, to the old beacon

and hut, among the contortions of pine, 

the many suns, the crawling

feldspar carcass of the drowned coast. Our daughter 

we carried to the gentler pools 

to search the receding tide for treasures, hermit crabs, 

soft-shelled beasties. A shag hunted close by, 

among the rollers. The hammers 

fell, slabs and iron, distant homes 

sharing a sky. We walked 

along the coast road toward the point

in a lateness of day: a deer 

breast-deep in meadow, nursing her fawn 

whose tail flicked steadily 

like a white rag metronome beneath her

in the wet reds, the wet golds 

and dry, the standing rain of grass, until she bolted 

and her fawn followed, already spotless, 

into Maine, the easy miracles. We reached the road’s end, no time

to cross the rocks, one of a thousand headlands 

puzzling apart into the sea –

only a moment to pause and look 

out and across to the islands, the scrim 

of blue humidity, thin lands aslant of the sun, the waves

exulting in their fetters – the foliate water, birds turning, 

hunting – and the traps 

silently hunting. 

 

 

Chatham

 

The old buildings suffer their new money. The old bodies 

suffer 

their new bodies. The woman on the bench 

outside the tourist trap 

with her dark glasses and calligraphic poise 

chewing 

fried potato with mouth open suffers 

the increasing world. 

 

 

David Troupes has published two full collections of poetry, and a selection of his recent work was included in Carcanet’s 2015 anthology New Poetries VI. He is currently a Fellow of the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, and in his last year of a PhD concerning Ted Hughes & Christianity. He also draws a comic strip, and does other things: see www.buttercupfestival.com.

 

 

Image credit: David Troupes

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