Thursday, September 06, 2007

Montauk

Together we watched the wild desolate seascape
in the movie about the spotless mind. Montauk,
we know today, is neither wild nor desolate:
not the lake-harbor in the shape of a human head,
where motorboats march in a column to marinas,
and fancy restaurants serve seafood kept fresh by the sea—
orange-red lobster in the raw, oven roasted fluke,
sweet mahi mahi, lemony mussels, wild salmon;
not the Village, where souvenir vendors sell Montauk
tank tops and, knowing summer’s term, Montauk sweatshirts,
where in the barrack-style beach motels bivouac
surf soldiers darkened by the experience of sun,
where the Atlantic, ancient, absolvent, adjacent
to the one main drag, drowns the Sturm und Drang
of adulterous couples, estranged couples, gay couples,
and Indian families finding another sacred fount;
not wild, not desolate, not so at the lighthouse,
the first savior of ships erected in these States,
with its museum of maritime wrecks, coastal maps—
sounding the measurements of safe passage to sea
and back, or journey beside land’s jagged boundary—
and of trust, the watchtower’s trinitarian team,
Lighthouse Keeper, First Assistant, Second Assistant,
the twice-a-day spiraling stairway to the top
to light the blinking lamp behind its Fresnel lens
one hour before sunset, and to turn the eye off
one hour after sunrise, reverse but regular as
the sun; no, not even here at this high headland
overlooking Block Island Sound and the Ocean,
Ocean and Sound, heard here, at once Other and One,
where names man gives to nature cease to matter much
to the sailboat striding the waves, to the moon, to stars,
and on the rocky ledge round the lighthouse’s root
we both know, my love, who is no longer my love,
we’re standing at the very end of Long Island
but, no, neither wild nor desolate is the edge.

4 comments:

monkey said...

Hi Jee Leong,

I like this poem and it's also very interesting to see the prose blog entry that you drew on (from your novella-in-progress?).

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi monkey,
I'm glad you like the poem. I made small small edits and added a line. I hope they increase your enjoyment of the poem. Hmm...a novella, now that's an idea...

monkey said...

Jee Leong, the added line ("to the sailboat striding the waves ...") and the revised syntax of the last clause ("neither wild nor desolate is the edge", vs. the earlier "the edge is neither wild nor desolate") feel like gilding-the-lily/Hollywoodish touches to me. I do like your changing the first mention of "Lighthouse" to lowercase, though. :-)

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, monkey, for coming back to this. Given the speaker's discovery of movies' "unreality," your Hollywood comment is clever and pertinent. I will think over those lines and changes.