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2 poems by Mark Mansfield

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Puerto Escondido, 1972

The sea, as though possessed,

was calm as the moonlit sky.

A breeze whispered slowly,

and thought was out of reach,

quiet as mist turned snow.

Like stars brought with the tide

plankton iridesced

to milk-white indigo,

as we huddled on the beach,

and knelt by a fire’s glow.

And a buoy knelled each to each

as if from long ago

till someone laughed in jest—

while a girl, then young as I,

repeated clear and low,

“Las estrellas como

melodìas cantan.

Las estrellas como

melodìas cantan.”

Si’ mon,

y como un beso—

the hidden silhouette

left each dawn

upon the sea.

The Calyx

And yet how much we say in saying: “twilight.”

—Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Sometimes in flight across the sky

a silhouette’s revealed,

caught by a full moon’s stolen light.

Then just as soon a sudden rush

and beating of earthbound wings

or gust of leaves diverts the eye.

Ein Dämmerungsschauer,

the Germans call it.

A twilight shiver some feel.

But it’s no shiver from day’s last light,

no spell cast by lost souls

or the vanished world of which night sings.

It is an old amnesia—the oldest;

a narrow boat

ever outsailing the speed of light

past where time is sealed,

where the noiseless calyx tolls.


Mark Mansfield is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Strangers Like You (2008, revised 2018 Chester River Press) and Soul Barker (2017, Chester River Press), and a chapbook, Notes from the Isle of Exiled Imaginary Playmates (2020, Chester River Press). He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. Currently, he lives in upstate New York.


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