Michael Vince Poems

Twelve Poems of Michael Vince

photo of Michael Vince in Rome



..cimetière marin…

One night a few friends row him ashore:

what better than to lie among the olive trees

where goats scatter stones and poppies bloom

and the sea looms Homer’s wine-colour,

dead darkness winking green and red

from the anchored fleet. An archipelago

of stars overhead, a winter gully

shaped with rocks and scrub at his feet,

in time he acquires a marble tomb

with railings and chiselled lettering:

women from the village come to wash the stone

and place flowers, beetles scuttle across,

wheeling gulls keep watch. It adds

far off to reputation: his handsome face,

the philosopher walking leafy lanes,

lover, poet, warrior, no role quite settled

at last, for time was short, and none proved

firm as rock, or sinewy as olive root.

Here in his tomb, he is far from all that talk:

the occasional tourist hikes down the road,

from the naval base contractors driving home

raise dust. Mostly the ancient susurrus

of ocean rises, fades, stretches the shadow

of a dead comrade’s oar-blade, the outmoded

line of beauty, the arrow in Zeno’s paradox -

arcing toward the target it can never reach.