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A seascape of luminous ivory

scrimshaws itself into view.

As if they were the dusk of the gods,  

 rolling fog and sea spray

  entwine like Canova's Three Graces.

In the harbor, fishing boats bob and sway at anchor,

moored in a milky tableau vivant;

water slaps gently against the hulls.

A bell buoy clangs elsewhere,

muffled by the pelting showers,

its toll as plaintive

 as Satie's Gnossiennes.

The bell is a ghost's soliloquy;

not a seagull can be heard.

The interminable drizzle has silenced

 even those raucous creatures.

 They sit afloat and inert,

each a precarious still life,

a transient frieze,

soon to vanish in nature's

untamed impermanence.

The lighthouse stands deadpan,

bronze plated

with the forgotten names

of the vanquished,

lost in the remorseless sea.

Sailors' bones are

their own bleak scrimshaw,

adrift on Neptune's continent

 of ebony depths,

ridden by tides beating

to geological time.

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Paul Mann

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