Poem: Gloriously Wrong

ruins 2 BW.JPG

Gloriously Wrong

I know what you see.
I have seen it too.
Ruins. Remnants. Remains
of something once vital, once thriving,
full of purpose, a bastion
of commerce and creativity,
vital and bustling and alive,
boats, fresh from the sea,
seafood still writhing in the nets,
fishermen, hands raw, wool caps on their heads,
busy in the last act of the day, the unloading,
the distribution of the day’s catch
before they find their way home
of the closest pub.

Those who have lived close remember.
They can still smell the raw captives,
the desiel oil from old engines.
They can hear the clank of winches
and the dull thump of boats against the docks

that are no longer here.
None of it remains save these singular posts,
the last soldiers in a war of attrition,
victims of a neglect born of busyness,
too much activity, too much to do to maintain
the silent battle against saltwater and time
until the battle was lost,
the bastion abandoned, left
to become what it is this moment.
a monument to what was, and then,
with enough time and neglect,
a vague signpost to what was.

I know what you see.
I see it too.
I have lived it.
I have been those strong piles, driven deep into the earth.
I have been the platform,
the safe haven to tie up to
in times of storm and tides,
treasured and neglected until board by board
the rot won.
I became no more than this you see in front of you
A few final posts in the earth,
not even enough of me that passersby
could know what was once there.
an eyesore,
blocking the view,
dark and half rotten against the sea,
against the sky.

I have come close to the death,
close as skin to washing away,
to devolve from ruin to mist to a vague
memory, and yet now I stand
on new ground,
rebuilt by grace and stubbornness,
at the hand of others,
cheerleaders and historians,
mystics and priests of the God of Second Chances,
I have been reset, deeper still into the earth,
relying not on new foundations, but deeper still
into the soil that birthed me.
I have been built again, fresh cedar, new nails
of zinc and steel,
each day a battle against tide and storm,
two steps forward,
one back,
repeat,
a battle already lost, slowly won again,
won as slowly as it was lost,
a thing without drama,
a daily reminder that dead rarely means dead.
That there is life after life.
Life after rot. after betrayal, after false Gods and
failing,
each new shoring up of your own raw deal
a reminder when you see others
of what can be there,
not the same historical structures that once lived here,
but something new,
worn still, and yet more vital for the resurrection
that almost came.
too late.

I know what you see.
I have seen it too, and
was gloriously wrong.
The dead are not dead,
no matter how they seem.

About this poem

One of the good things about having been broken and rebuilt? You never see others in the same light.

The photograph was taken at the tip of Cape Cod, near Provincetown.

Tom

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