Derek Walcott |
The Sea Is History
Derek Walcott |
A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
"Waste no compassion on these separate dead!"
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
>From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead.
Again brutish necessity wipes its hands
Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live?
Derek Walcott |
There were still shards of an ancient pastoral
in those shires of the island where the cattle drank
their pools of shadow from an older sky,
surviving from when the landscape copied such objects as
"Herefords at Sunset in the valley of the Wye.
The mountain water that fell white from the mill wheel
sprinkling like petals from the star-apple trees,
and all of the windmills and sugar mills moved by mules
on the treadmill of Monday to Monday, would repeat
in tongues of water and wind and fire, in tongues
of Mission School pickaninnies, like rivers remembering
their source, Parish Trelawny, Parish St David, Parish
St Andrew, the names afflicting the pastures,
the lime groves and fences of marl stone and the cattle
with a docile longing, an epochal content.
And there were, like old wedding lace in an attic,
among the boas and parasols and the tea-colored
daguerreotypes, hints of an epochal happiness
as ordered and infinite to the child
as the great house road to the Great House
down a perspective of casuarinas plunging green manes
in time to the horses, an orderly life
reduced by lorgnettes day and night, one disc the sun,
the other the moon, reduced into a pier glass:
nannies diminished to dolls, mahogany stairways
no larger than those of an album in which
the flash of cutlery yellows, as gamboge as
the piled cakes of teatime on that latticed
bougainvillea verandah that looked down toward
a prospect of Cuyp-like Herefords under a sky
lurid as a porcelain souvenir with these words:
"Herefords at Sunset in the Valley of the Wye.
Strange, that the rancor of hatred hid in that dream
of slow rivers and lily-like parasols, in snaps
of fine old colonial families, curled at the edge
not from age of from fire or the chemicals, no, not at all,
but because, off at its edges, innocently excluded
stood the groom, the cattle boy, the housemaid, the gardeners,
the tenants, the good Negroes down in the village,
their mouth in the locked jaw of a silent scream.
A scream which would open the doors to swing wildly
all night, that was bringing in heavier clouds,
more black smoke than cloud, frightening the cattle
in whose bulging eyes the Great House diminished;
a scorching wind of a scream
that began to extinguish the fireflies,
that dried the water mill creaking to a stop
as it was about to pronounce Parish Trelawny
all over, in the ancient pastoral voice,
a wind that blew all without bending anything,
neither the leaves of the album nor the lime groves;
blew Nanny floating back in white from a feather
to a chimerical, chemical pin speck that shrank
the drinking Herefords to brown porcelain cows
on a mantelpiece, Trelawny trembling with dusk,
the scorched pastures of the old benign Custos; blew
far the decent servants and the lifelong cook,
and shriveled to a shard that ancient pastoral
of dusk in a gilt-edged frame now catching the evening sun
in Jamaica, making both epochs one.
He looked out from the Great House windows on
clouds that still held the fragrance of fire,
he saw the Botanical Gardens officially drown
in a formal dusk, where governors had strolled
and black gardeners had smiled over glinting shears
at the lilies of parasols on the floating lawns,
the flame trees obeyed his will and lowered their wicks,
the flowers tightened their fists in the name of thrift,
the porcelain lamps of ripe cocoa, the magnolia's jet
dimmed on the one circuit with the ginger lilies
and left a lonely bulb on the verandah,
and, had his mandate extended to that ceiling
of star-apple candelabra, he would have ordered
the sky to sleep, saying, I'm tired,
save the starlight for victories, we can't afford it,
leave the moon on for one more hour,and that's it.
But though his power, the given mandate, extended
from tangerine daybreaks to star-apple dusks,
his hand could not dam that ceaseless torrent of dust
that carried the shacks of the poor, to their root-rock music,
down the gullies of Yallahs and August Town,
to lodge them on thorns of maca, with their rags
crucified by cactus, tins, old tires, cartons;
from the black Warieka Hills the sky glowed fierce as
the dials of a million radios,
a throbbing sunset that glowed like a grid
where the dread beat rose from the jukebox of Kingston.
He saw the fountains dried of quadrilles, the water-music
of the country dancers, the fiddlers like fifes
He had to heal
this malarial island in its bath of bay leaves,
its forests tossing with fever, the dry cattle
groaning like winches, the grass that kept shaking
its head to remember its name.
No vowels left
in the mill wheel, the river.
The mountains rolled like whales through phosphorous stars,
as he swayed like a stone down fathoms into sleep,
drawn by that magnet which pulls down half the world
between a star and a star, by that black power
that has the assassin dreaming of snow,
that poleaxes the tyrant to a sleeping child.
The house is rocking at anchor, but as he falls
his mind is a mill wheel in moonlight,
and he hears, in the sleep of his moonlight, the drowned
bell of Port Royal's cathedral, sees the copper pennies
of bubbles rising from the empty eye-pockets
of green buccaneers, the parrot fish floating
from the frayed shoulders of pirates, sea horses
drawing gowned ladies in their liquid promenade
across the moss-green meadows of the sea;
he heard the drowned choirs under Palisadoes,
a hymn ascending to earth from a heaven inverted
by water, a crab climbing the steeple,
and he climbed from that submarine kingdom
as the evening lights came on in the institute,
the scholars lamplit in their own aquarium,
he saw them mouthing like parrot fish, as he passed
upward from that baptism, their history lessons,
the bubbles like ideas which he could not break:
Jamaica was captured by Penn and Venables,
Port Royal perished in a cataclysmic earthquake.
Before the coruscating faÃ§ades of cathedrals
from Santiago to Caracas, where penitential archbishops
washed the feet of paupers (a parenthetical moment
that made the Caribbean a baptismal font,
turned butterflies to stone, and whitened like doves
the buzzards circling municipal garbage),
the Caribbean was borne like an elliptical basin
in the hands of acolytes, and a people were absolved
of a history which they did not commit;
the slave pardoned his whip, and the dispossessed
said the rosary of islands for three hundred years,
a hymn that resounded like the hum of the sea
inside a sea cave, as their knees turned to stone,
while the bodies of patriots were melting down walls
still crusted with mute outcries of La Revolucion!
"San Salvador, pray for us,St.
Thomas, San Domingo,
ora pro nobis, intercede for us, Sancta Lucia
of no eyes," and when the circular chaplet
reached the last black bead of Sancta Trinidad
they began again, their knees drilled into stone,
where Colon had begun, with San Salvador's bead,
beads of black colonies round the necks of Indians.
And while they prayed for an economic miracle,
ulcers formed on the municipal portraits,
the hotels went up, and the casinos and brothels,
and the empires of tobacco, sugar, and bananas,
until a black woman, shawled like a buzzard,
climbed up the stairs and knocked at the door
of his dream, whispering in the ear of the keyhole:
"Let me in, I'm finished with praying, I'm the Revolution.
I am the darker, the older America.
She was as beautiful as a stone in the sunrise,
her voice had the gutturals of machine guns
across khaki deserts where the cactus flower
detonates like grenades, her sex was the slit throat
of an Indian, her hair had the blue-black sheen of the crow.
She was a black umbrella blown inside out
by the wind of revolution, La Madre Dolorosa,
a black rose of sorrow, a black mine of silence,
raped wife, empty mother, Aztec virgin
transfixed by arrows from a thousand guitars,
a stone full of silence, which, if it gave tongue
to the tortures done in the name of the Father,
would curdle the blood of the marauding wolf,
the fountain of generals, poets, and cripples
who danced without moving over their graves
with each revolution; her Caesarean was stitched
by the teeth of machine guns,and every sunset
she carried the Caribbean's elliptical basin
as she had once carried the penitential napkins
to be the footbath of dictators, Trujillo, Machado,
and those whose faces had yellowed like posters
on municipal walls.
Now she stroked his hair
until it turned white, but she would not understand
that he wanted no other power but peace,
that he wanted a revolution without any bloodshed,
he wanted a history without any memory,
streets without statues,
and a geography without myth.
He wanted no armies
but those regiments of bananas, thick lances of cane,
and he sobbed,"I am powerless, except for love.
She faded from him, because he could not kill;
she shrunk to a bat that hung day and night
in the back of his brain.
He rose in his dream.
(to be continued)
Derek Walcott |
There are so many islands!
As many islands as the stars at night
on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken
like falling fruit around the schooner Flight.
But things must fall,and so it always was,
on one hand Venus,on the other Mars;
fall,and are one,just as this earth is one
island in archipelagoes of stars.
My first friend was the sea.
Now,is my last.
I stop talking now.
I work,then I read,
cotching under a lantern hooked to the mast.
I try to forget what happiness was,
and when that don't work,I study the stars.
Sometimes is just me,and the soft-scissored foam
as the deck turn white and the moon open
a cloud like a door,and the light over me
is a road in white moonlight taking me home.
Shabine sang to you from the depths of the sea.
Derek Walcott |
The last leaves fell like notes from a piano
and left their ovals echoing in the ear;
with gawky music stands, the winter forest
looks like an empty orchestra, its lines
ruled on these scattered manuscripts of snow.
The inlaid copper laurel of an oak
shines though the brown-bricked glass above your head
as bright as whisky, while the wintry breath
of lines from Mandelstam, which you recite,
uncoils as visibly as cigarette smoke.
"The rustling of ruble notes by the lemon Neva.
Under your exile's tongue, crisp under heel,
the gutturals crackle like decaying leaves,
the phrase from Mandelstam circles with light
in a brown room, in barren Oklahoma.
There is a Gulag Archipelago
under this ice, where the salt, mineral spring
of the long Trail of Tears runnels these plains
as hard and open as a herdsman's face
sun-cracked and stubbled with unshaven snow.
Growing in whispers from the Writers' Congress,
the snow circles like cossacks round the corpse
of a tired Choctaw till it is a blizzard
of treaties and white papers as we lose
sight of the single human through the cause.
So every spring these branches load their shelves,
like libraries with newly published leaves,
till waste recycles them—paper to snow—
but, at zero of suffering, one mind
lasts like this oak with a few brazen leaves.
As the train passed the forest's tortured icons,
ths floes clanging like freight yards, then the spires
of frozen tears, the stations screeching steam,
he drew them in a single winters' breath
whose freezing consonants turned into stone.
He saw the poetry in forlorn stations
under clouds vast as Asia, through districts
that could gulp Oklahoma like a grape,
not these tree-shaded prairie halts but space
so desolate it mocked destinations.
Who is that dark child on the parapets
of Europe, watching the evening river mint
its sovereigns stamped with power, not with poets,
the Thames and the Neva rustling like banknotes,
then, black on gold, the Hudson's silhouettes?
>From frozen Neva to the Hudson pours,
under the airport domes, the echoing stations,
the tributary of emigrants whom exile
has made as classless as the common cold,
citizens of a language that is now yours,
and every February, every "last autumn",
you write far from the threshing harvesters
folding wheat like a girl plaiting her hair,
far from Russia's canals quivering with sunstroke,
a man living with English in one room.
The tourist archipelagoes of my South
are prisons too, corruptible, and though
there is no harder prison than writing verse,
what's poetry, if it is worth its salt,
but a phrase men can pass from hand to mouth?
>From hand to mouth, across the centuries,
the bread that lasts when systems have decayed,
when, in his forest of barbed-wire branches,
a prisoner circles, chewing the one phrase
whose music will last longer than the leaves,
whose condensation is the marble sweat
of angels' foreheads, which will never dry
till Borealis shuts the peacock lights
of its slow fan from L.
and memory needs nothing to repeat.
Frightened and starved, with divine fever
Osip Mandelstam shook, and every
metaphor shuddered him with ague,
each vowel heavier than a boundary stone,
"to the rustling of ruble notes by the lemon Neva,"
but now that fever is a fire whose glow
warms our hands, Joseph, as we grunt like primates
exchanging gutturals in this wintry cave
of a brown cottage, while in drifts outside
mastodons force their systems through the snow.
Derek Walcott |
So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August.
My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.
Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.
She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album.
Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,
she does not come out.
Don't you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly
to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,
so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,
all with not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then
I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.
Derek Walcott |
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott |
Those five or six young guys
lunched on the stoop
that oven-hot summer night
whistled me over.
So, I stop.
MacDougal or Christopher
Street in chains of light.
A summer festival.
I wasn't too far from
home, but not too bright
for a nigger, and not too dark.
I figured we were all
one, wop, nigger, jew,
besides, this wasn't Central Park.
I'm coming on too strong? You figure
right! They beat this yellow nigger
black and blue.
During all this, scared
on case one used a knife,
I hung my olive-green, just-bought
sports coat on a fire plug.
I did nothing.
each other, really.
gives them a few kcks,
The spades, the spicks.
My face smashed in, my bloddy mug
pouring, my olive-branch jacket saved
from cuts and tears,
I crawled four flights upstairs.
Sprawled in the gutter, I
remember a few watchers waved
loudly, and one kid's mother shouting
like "Jackie" or "Terry,"
"now that's enough!"
It's nothing really.
They don't get enough love.
You know they wouldn't kill
Just playing rough,
like young Americans will.
Still it taught me somthing
If it's so tough,
Derek Walcott |
Schizophrenic, wrenched by two styles,
one a hack's hired prose, I earn
I trudge this sickle, moonlit beach for miles,
to slough off
this live of ocean that's self-love.
To change your language you must change your life.
I cannot right old wrongs.
Waves tire of horizon and return.
Gulls screech with rusty tongues
Above the beached, rotting pirogues,
they were a venomous beaked cloud at Charlotteville.
One I thought love of country was enough,
now, even if I chose, there is no room at the trough.
I watch the best minds rot like dogs
for scraps of flavour.
I am nearing middle
age, burnt skin
peels from my hand like paper, onion-thin,
like Peer Gynt's riddle.
At heart there is nothing, not the dread
I know to many dead.
They're all familiar, all in character,
even how they died.
the flesh no longer fears that furnace mouth
that kiln or ashpit of the sun,
nor this clouding, unclouding sickle moon
withering this beach again like a blank page.
All its indifference is a different rage.
Derek Walcott |
After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.
Derek Walcott |
You can't put in the ground swell of the organ
from the Christiansted, St.
Croix, Anglican Church
behind the paratrooper's voice: "Turned cop
I made thirty jumps.
Bells punish the dead street and pigeons lurch
from the stone belfry, opening their chutes,
circling until the rings of ringing stop.
"Salud!" The paratrooper's glass is raised.
The congregation rises to its feet
like a patrol, with scuffling shoes and boots,
repeating orders as the organ thumps:
"Praise Ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.
You cannot hear, beyond the quiet harbor,
the breakers cannonading on the bruised
horizon, or the charter engines gunning for
The only war here is a war
of silence between blue sky and sea,
and just one voice, the marching choir's, is raised
to draft new conscripts with the ancient cry
of "Onward, Christian Soldiers," into pews
half-empty still, or like a glass, half-full.
Pinning itself to a cornice, a gull
hangs like a medal from the serge-blue sky.
Are these boats all? Is the blue water all?
The rocks surpliced with lace where they are moored,
dinghy, catamaran, and racing yawl,
nodding to the ground swell of "Praise the Lord"?
Wesley and Watts, their evangelical light
lanced down the mine shafts to our chapel pew,
its beam gritted with motes of anthracite
that drifted on us in our chapel benches:
from God's slow-grinding mills in Lancashire,
ash on the dead mired in Flanders' trenches,
as a gray drizzle now defiles the view
of this blue harbor, framed in windows where
two yellow palm fronds, jerked by the wind's rain,
agree like horses' necks, and nodding bear,
slow as a hearse, a haze of tasseled rain,
and, as the weather changes in a child,
the paradisal day outside grows dark,
the yachts flutter like moths in a gray jar,
the martial voices fade in thunder, while
across the harbor, like a timid lure,
a rainbow casts its seven-colored arc.
Tonight, now Sunday has been put to rest.
Altar lights ride the black glass where the yachts
stiffly repeat themselves and phosphoresce
with every ripple - the wide parking-lots
of tidal affluence - and every mast
sways the night's dial as its needle veers
to find the station which is truly peace.
Like neon lasers shot across the bars
discos blast out the music of the spheres,
and, one by one, science infects the stars.
Derek Walcott |
Better a jungle in the head
than rootless concrete.
Better to stand bewildered
by the fireflies' crooked street;
winter lamps do not show
where the sidewalk is lost,
nor can these tongues of snow
speak for the Holy Ghost;
the self-increasing silence
of words dropped from a roof
points along iron railings,
direction, in not proof.
But best is this night surf
with slow scriptures of sand,
that sends, not quite a seraph,
but a late cormorant,
whose fading cry propels
through phosphorescent shoal
what, in my childhood gospels,
used to be called the Soul.
Derek Walcott |
Broad sun-stoned beaches.
A green river.
scorched yellow palms
from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.
Days I have held,
days I have lost,
days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.
Derek Walcott |
As for that other thing
which comes when the eyelid is glazed
and the wax gleam
from the unwrinkled forehead
asks no more questions
of the dry mouth,
whether they open the heart like a shirt
to release a rage of swallows,
whether the brain
is a library for worms,
on the instant of that knowledge
of the moment
when everything became so stiff,
so formal with ironical adieux,
organ and choir,
and I must borrow a black tie,
and at what moment in the oration
shall I break down and weep -
there was the startle of wings
breaking from the closing cage
of your body, your fist unclenching
these pigeons circling serenely
over the page,
as the parentheses lock like a gate
1917 to 1977,
the semicircles close to form a face,
a world, a wholeness,
an unbreakable O,
and something that once had a fearful name
walks from the thing that used to wear its name,
transparent, exact representative,
so that we can see through it
churches, cars, sunlight,
and the Boston Common,
not needing any book.
Derek Walcott |
Koening knew now there was no one on the river.
Entering its brown mouth choking with lilies
and curtained with midges, Koenig poled the shallop
past the abandoned ferry and the ferry piles
coated with coal dust.
Staying aboard, he saw, up
in a thick meadow, a sand-colored mule,
untethered, with no harness, and no signs
of habitation round the ruined factory wheel
locked hard in rust, and through whose spokes the vines
of wild yam leaves leant from overweight;
the wild bananas in the yellowish sunlight
were dugged like aching cows with unmilked fruit.
This was the last of the productive mines.
Only the vegetation here looked right.
A crab of pain scuttled shooting up his foot
and fastened on his neck, at the brain's root.
He felt his reason curling back like parchment
in this fierce torpor.
Well, he no longer taxed
and tired what was left of his memory;
he should thank heaven he had escaped the sea,
and anyway, he had demanded to be sent
here with the others - why get this river vexed
with his complaints? Koenig wanted to sing,
suddenly, if only to keep the river company -
this was a river, and Koenig, his name meant King.
They had all caught the missionary fever:
they were prepared to expiate the sins
os savages, to tame them as he would tame this river
subtly, as it flowed, accepting its bends;
he had seen how other missionaries met their ends -
swinging in the wind, like a dead clapper when
a bell is broken, if that sky was a bell -
for treating savages as if they were men,
and frightening them with talk of Heaven and Hell.
But I have forgotten our journey's origins,
mused Koenig, and our purpose.
He knew it was noble,
based on some phrase, forgotten, from the Bible,
but he felt bodiless, like a man stumbling from
the pages of a novel, not a forest,
written a hundred years ago.
He stroked his uniform,
clogged with the hooked burrs that had tried
to pull him, like the other drowning hands whom
his panic abandoned.
The others had died,
like real men, by death.
I, Koenig, am a ghost,
ghost-king of rivers.
Well, even ghosts must rest.
If he knew he was lost he was not lost.
It was when you pretended that you were a fool.
He banked and leaned tiredly on the pole.
If I'm a character called Koenig, then I
shall dominate my future like a fiction
in which there is a real river and real sky,
so I'm not really tired, and should push on.
The lights between the leaves were beautiful,
and, as in that far life, now he was grateful
for any pool of light between the dull, usual
clouds of life: a sunspot haloed his tonsure;
silver and copper coins danced on the river;
his head felt warm - the light danced on his skull
like a benediction.
Koenig closed his eyes,
and he felt blessed.
It made direction sure.
He leant on the pole.
He must push on some more.
He said his name.
His voice sounded German,
then he said "river", but what was German
if he alone could hear it? Ich spreche Deutsch
sounded as genuine as his name in English,
Koenig in Deutsch, and, in English, King.
Did the river want to be called anything?
He asked the river.
The river said nothing.
Around the bend the river poured its silver
like some remorseful mine, giving and giving
everything green and white: white sky, white
water, and the dull green like a drumbeat
of the slow-sliding forest, the green heat;
then, on some sandbar, a mirage ahead:
fabric of muslin sails, spiderweb rigging,
a schooner, foundered on black river mud,
was rising slowly up from the riverbed,
and a top-hatted native reading an inverted
"Where's our Queen?" Koenig shouted.
"Where's our Kaiser?"
The nigger disappeared.
Koenig felt that he himself was being read
like the newspaper or a hundred-year-old novel.
"The Queen dead! Kaiser dead!" the voices shouted.
And it flashed through him those trunks were not wood
but that the ghosts of slaughtered Indians stood
there in the mangrroves, their eyes like fireflies
in the green dark, and that like hummingbirds
they sailed rather than ran between the trees.
The river carried him past his shouted words.
The schooner had gone down without a trace.
"There was a time when we ruled everything,"
Koenig sang to his corrugated white reflection.
"The German Eagle and the British Lion,
we ruled worlds wider than this river flows,
worlds with dyed elephants, with tassled howdahs,
tigers that carried the striped shade when they rose
from their palm coverts; men shall not see these days
again; our flags sank with the sunset on the dhows
of Egypt; we ruled rivers as huge as the Nile,
the Ganges, and the Congo, we tamed, we ruled
you when our empires reached their blazing peak.
This was a small creek somewhere in the world,
never mind where - victory was in sight.
Koenig laughed and spat in the brown creek.
The mosquitoes now were singing to the night
that rose up from the river, the fog uncurled
under the mangroves.
Koenig clenched each fist
around his barge-pole scepter, as a mist
rises from the river and the page goes white.