Sakura, poems by Daniel Wade
Daniel Wade is a 25-year-old poet and author from the Republic of Ireland. He is a graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, where he studied English and Journalism. His poetry has been published in Optic, Limerick Revival, Wordlegs (e-publication), The Stony Thursday Book (ed. Paddy Bushe), HeadSpace Magazine, the Seven Towers 2014 Census, the Bray Arts Journal, The Sea (charity anthology in aid of the RNLI), Sixteen Magazine (e-publication), The Bogman’s Cannon, Iodine Poetry Journal, Zymbol, The Runt, Headstuff, The Fredricksburg Literary Review, The Lonely Crowd, A New Ulster, FLARE Magazine and the Hennessey New Irish Writers’ page of the Irish Times.
He has also featured as a guest on Dublin South FM’s Rhyme and Reason poetry program, as well as on Near FM’s Writer’s Block. In June 2015, his radio drama, ‘The Outer Darkness’, was broadcast on Dublin South FM. A prolific performer, he has also read his work at various festivals, including the Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Noeliefest and the West Belfast Festival. In March 2016, ‘The Collector’, his first stage play is due to be staged at the New Theatre in Dublin in January of next year.
His website is http://danielwadeauthor.com/.
III. Venice, Italy
It’s not what I expected to remember, but I do:
A hectic flotilla of vapoetti clearing the waterway
For a cruise ship larger than the harbour itself:
The weighed bustle of anchors, engines revved
To afterburn, wakes in foamy collision. Swarming
Madly at untold knots, they pave a white-capped path
For the pearly hulk, cruising on company charter;
For Neptune, wetting his lip before fine-tuning his conch;
For his melodic blare, luring the waves landward.
Like all tourists, I’d made my seasonal invasion. Aircraft,
City Night Line, and vaporetto brought me to Venice’s
Heat-sodden heart, where the sun worked overtime,
Gaining the traction of anchors without chains.
My guidebook showed the path taken by long-dead pilgrims.
Vivaldi chestnuts, adapted for clarinet, polished the plaza
Back to peace, the melody slithering on reeded brass,
The double bass throbbing like an upright grampus.
A cello’s gracious moan plunged in baroque rubato.
In a riverside teashop, out of the lion’s yawning sight,
My stainless knife and fork trussed in a serviette
Of wine-proof gauze, I nursed surf-cold Peroni,
Watching antic boats ply the olive lagoon.
Wait for it: the embroidered light, kindling for dusk.
Wait for it: tables and chairs scuppered in azure overspill.
The city’s trademark regality. The ship’s magnitude
Halted me, her Olympian prow delving the air.
On her main deck, two hundred feet above sea level,
Thousands were massed. My breath evaporated.
The ship dwarfed Venice, carving the skyline in two.
Steeples shored up the sea-laced sky, sheer
As a mirror. A coven of gondolas huddled at the water’s edge.
In the virile afternoon, they all, downriver, amassed:
Oarlocked sandolos, galleys rigged by scraps of lateen,
Vaporetti motoring in and around the surf-heavy wharfs,
Razored prows cleansed by a wink of quicksilver.
But this wasn’t the city publicized by guidebooks,
Where mercy is trafficked in industrial measure.
I gauged the distance I had to keep my aghast eyes from bulging.
I think my hand climbed to my brow, blotting out
The sun-kissed glare, as if to give full salute.
In Venice, it’s hardly an unusual sight, a cruise ship
At low speed steering her course, the current unsealed
Like grey lattice. Yet I couldn’t help but sigh the word
‘majesty’ in sotto voce, the watertight tableau of power
Anchoring my gaze the way no painting ever could.
The canal’s bottle-green arm glistened like tonic.
From the quay, without a bottled warning to keep my cool,
I felt the dewy obsession of unripe years
Thaw from its vernal sleep and leak once more
Through my bones, as it has continued to since,
Tunnelling my blood, my bilges of silence.
I wanted life to grip me, the way rushing tides grip
A hull, the way a sail thrusts itself to the wind.
I didn’t want to stay put, moored to a relic quay
Where my spirit would be a horn cleat’s girdling.
I frowned into my beer, like an inexorable moneylender
Who bids, unsparingly, that justice be paid in the flesh.
Truly, this was Venice. The last real thalassocracy.
Seaworthy as the ships she harboured, every bridge
And basilica sinkable as the princely Bucentaur, with her
Taffeta trimmings and frilled stern castle lying a-hull
To the bronze horizon, oarsmen grunting in chorus
With each heavy jab at the water, the perfumed
Doge preening to starboard, his official hubris gilded
In the figurehead. So many boats, so many souls
Like the hoary fish ranging the Adriatic, no more kingly
Than the stones the ocean sucks to its floor.
Green reflections squirm and swirl, the ship
Works her seismic alchemy, drawing a crowd
To the wharf to watch her skulk royally past.
Isn’t this humanity’s millstone? To know one’s
Irrelevance and mistake it for wonder, to curse
Yourself for letting it outweigh you, when your own
Strength could be reaped as a matter of course?
As you pose for a selfie
The cherry blossom
Flutters each of its petals
Like an eyelash:
Springtide aurora for you.
Hips writhing, brow arched,
You bask in the pink shade
As if in a house of Japanese prayer,
Your summer dress unfastened.
There you see a pearl’s
Covert essence in the grass,
And grow weak at the knees.
Leaves murmur in heat. You lick
Your lips. Your tanned cleavage,
Freckled breasts, rosy, Cupid’s
Bow mouth that stirs me
To calm, and your dress, falling
Loose from your shoulder to a slant –
All ready for the tingle of sakura,
For raptures in bloom.
© Daniel Wade