Averill Curdy

Northwest Passage

Standing on this deck I have watched
Morning’s first pale peach jeopardy
Of light flush alleys and rooftops,
Just touching my neighbors’ gardens,
Until they seethed like the green smoke
Of a new world. On these sidewalks,
With the linden’s melon scent twined
Around an untuned engine’s blue carbon
Monoxide and Wednesday’s trash,
I’ve looked for an authentic eloquence:
Frobisher returning three times
From Baffin Island, Boreal winds
Still on his tongue, timbers strained by tons
Of fool’s gold. Circled with lamplight
I’ve imagined sailing under discipline
Into strange seas where the sun hangs
Dumb as a cabbage all day in ice.
Even as sirens squall down the block,
I’ve fallen asleep in my armchair,
Tired as any theoretical geographer
After dinner, who dreams of trading
His knives for nutmegs, mirrors
For cinnamon and pearls, and beyond—
Finding by brute necessity and skill
Some route between suffering and song.


Averill Curdy
“Northwest Passage” first appeared in 32 Poems, Fall 2006.