FLYING TO TRIPOLI
Pages of sand; the slow black tape of road;
hills with salt and wreckage in their laps;
the canvas Mediterranean a guide
to windy Tripoli and the listing ships.
It is a kind of death, this vanishing:
the country or the flier? Blue flight; then
after oblivious landmarks, fall with dipped wing
like angels and with power, among men.
Down by the harbour over drooping wires,
on amazed marble bathers in the bowl,
the gloating of the sun is drops or flowers:
the oleanders and the fountains fall.
And what is real enough to touch? - we who
have died so fast along the death and fire,
following where we cannot possibly go,
dazed by the violence of that mine of air?
Oh flowery white and military town,
gapped like a boxer's mouth and pink with trees;
twirled by the ugly finger of the gun,
a restless bowl: or with dogs' humble eyes
upon the quiet coarseness of a rein
strong enough to be gentle. Where the lulled
ships nestle deeper; masonry scuttles down
from gash or scaffold; houses have been killed.
Flags that shrug and huddle in the wind,
summer of war, colour of tree and sky,
break us your angry bread; and for this land
that swarms with supplication not to die
- hunger of withering spaces where the crops
are dragged like salvage sunwards; of men and hills
with death with salt with wreckage in their laps.
And for this town of hesitating walls,
the injury and shyness of a guilt;
four eyes askance, held steady like a house
by dug-out, buttress, rifle, barbed-wire-belt,
where all turns downward, sweet and ruinous:
beauty that paints and wavers; fall of men;
dropping of strangers from enormous heights;
soft imprisoned terror in the sun.
Death and living have torn down their gates.
And agony ended here: dream into dream
by water-clock and flower-clock; rest with
the grey quay curving like a lover's arm
and as unsure. Pattern of peace and wrath.
For the guns tell the time: the earth falls
roaring and flowering from us; we are huge:
the tiny quilt of camps and farms and hills;
the road of urgent news; the turning page.