In the art of sinking into a landscape
or falling through the sky, a light touch
moves you to sympathy, or a deeper knowledge
of a heroine’s little faults.
Now the Riddle of the Sands
argues with its history,
fiddles with a likely clue and abandons it.
In the stone passageway, a pointer:
chalk marks indicate a track, a working man
dawdles and leans on a shovel
reading a notice about submerged structures
that may yet transform this deliquescent scene
into an emotional instruction manual – that is,
the meaning layer is read into it or varnished
onto it, a melancholy murmur
heard even in France in winter: a longing
for interpretation. Follow those emblematic persons
through their countryside, turning into your townscape
built of crooked curves and negative camber;
for to be true to your dreams you must –
here blotted words – recover
a young person’s knack known as
departure through the mirror of sleep.