Irina Mashinski’s poem to all the native cities and their mermaids swimming by rusty snapped-off doors.
Human, by Selwyn Rodda
To an Atlantis
Fleet left. Towers
are rising from waters
– and sink again:
Grand Central of the sea –
its bottle glass of empty
deep terminals, and foamless
passages, and shoals of baby fish…
Brave Herodotus had it described, it’s just
that seem new.
So, to Palenque! To all the native cities
swallowed by forests, to all the folding books
of hieroglyphs, to the clean design
of Mayan steps,
to steppes beneath the alto-cumulus convoys,
where my grandfather at sixteen denounced
the family, joined the Red Guard,
saw terror, saw it all, sent them to hell,
got himself jailed, jailed again, exiled, then old.
We haven’t started it but we’ve got to see
how mermaids swim by rusty snapped-off doors
of an express stuck in abyssal mud –
and sit on cliffs of rhymes and sing.
As for the meter – as for the pure honey
for iamb of littoral, for anapest of depths,
lighthouses of metaphors, drill towers above shelf waters –
we know that tar at night does look mysterious.
From space that glides so low,
oil spills look like an unknown