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
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
Las estrellas como
y como un beso—
the hidden silhouette
left each dawn
upon the sea.
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.
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.