Saturday, June 18, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Mathew Henderson

You find an island in the way the wrench grips you back,
the heft in your hand like a man reaching up and out
from the current and finding only you, who are caught
in a current of your own. There are thirty of you here,
more away, all pretending you’ve found something solid
in the sexless hips beneath your boots, something
you might leap from. In the morning, sixty slow feet
fall into coveralls with the patience of men who’ve guessed,
already, the rain and dirt and burn of all the coming years.

Your lungs catch the barb of something unbreathable
in the air and every man on lease stops to watch his hands,
to test the ground with his feet: leaning back and forth,
the brim of his hardhat cutting a crescent from the world.
They say some of you will die this winter. They are always
saying things like that. Those who sleep through the night,
who have been the meagre villains of every story you’ve
ever been told. They who are always coming, they who rise up
like waves behind us. They who take our islands, in the end.