Jason Morgan: ‘Sestina for Hart Crane’

Sestina for Hart Crane

In the bay, the white bird circles in flight.
Its wing is gilded by the morning sun
which turns night and day, murkiness and light.
Long has been the quest from the vast sea,
for the pale bird and the rustling water,
and the sails that cross under Brooklyn Bridge.

In your bumpkin clothes you studied the Bridge.
From Ohio you had made your obscure flight
to hear the poem of the passing water
as it flowed with fire from the ritual sun
through the jaws of the effervescent sea,
coiling in one ageless halo of light.

Did you see Walt’s ferry breaking the light
moving many souls beneath the tan Bridge
emerging like an Orphic harp from sea?
Did your eye trace the white bird’s sumptuous flight
which ends when it falls burning from the sun
into the oblivion of water?

You made wine from that fine, flowing water,
and consumed from moonrise til the first light.
You woke in shabby rooms torched by the sun.
Sweating Cutty Sark, you wandered the Bridge
where the air melts around the white bird’s flight
for there was heard the instant of the sea.

With that spindrift sigh from the immense sea,
you heard cables singing on the water,
and your words rose like the pale bird in flight,
but darkness comes whenever there is light.
To join earth and heaven with the steel Bridge,
you pursued the white bird into the sun.

In the bay, the white bird soars through the sun.
Its black wings rush over the blood-red sea.
The cycle of waves move beneath the Bridge.
I hear you like stillness over water,
while a spectral ferry charges the light,
leaving a wake of snow from its lone flight.

Where the arched Bridge wets its feet with water,
a rainbow spans a sea when evening light
farewells the sun and white bird on their flight.

Jason Morgan


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