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By Sean O’Brien

At the mouth of the river,

Moon, stars, an Arctic calm,

The twin lights at the end of the piers

Revolving with the smoothness

We expect of supernatural machinery.


Seen from down here on the beach

The harbored ocean slowly tilts,

Like a mirror discreetly manhandled

By night from the giant room

It was supposed to occupy forever.


The mind says now, but the stars

On their angelic gimbals roll

And fade, a tide of constellations

Breaking nowhere, every night

About this time. Strike up the band.


In the tumbledown bar, the singer

Has fallen from stardom and grace,

But though her interests nowadays

Are wholly secular, she can

Still refer back to the angels,


And knowing that song, we share

A moment with the saved before

We leave to make the crossing.

No captain, no ferry, but

Cross we shall, believe you me.


Source: Poetry (January 2018)

  • Nature

Poet Bio

Sean O’Brien
Sean O’Brien is a British poet, critic, novelist, short-fiction writer, professor of creative writing at Newcastle University, England, and a Fellow of the UK’s Royal Society of Literature. See More By This Poet

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