Watching the last boat
The crash is inside.
In slow motion. Splinters
in the mind’s confusion.
Each evening the last boat goes
across to the other island.
When it is too dark to see,
I watch anyhow, remembering
how I wept that day in the Met
over a last self-portrait
by Rembrandt. The guard telling me
again and again it was closing time.
We all know how this works. The way the distraught mind attaches itself to an image or activity that just happens to call out to it, for no apparent reason, and will not, cannot let go. As Eliot puts it: “I am moved by fancies that are curled /Around these images, and cling: / The notion of some infinitely gentle / Infinitely suffering thing.”
Today’s poem, taken from the collection In the Middle Distance (Graywolf, 2006) is quintessential Gregg, a delicate construction of quiet beauty, a poem of small feathers and very light bones.
The painting above is Rembrandt’s self portrait from 1669, the year of his death.