r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: Letter To Heather: On The Line

Letter To Heather: On The Line

Dear Heather,

What can I say about the line? The line
returns, always, to its starting point: it is
a question of margins, marginality,
where the line ends
it begins. It comes back like a ghost
haunting our breath. It dies a long death
on its search for the right hand margin
and then is born again. Revenant, Resurrectionist—
the line is all we have
we have to live by. Our lives on the line.

But is that what you meant? The poetic line?
or that primal mark, hand to paper
(sand, canvas, wall, stone: blank surface)
first gesture of inscription
already dividing space, giving figure and ground,
line of a face in profile, line
of trees on a distant horizon?

We walk the line, we draw the line,
sometimes we cross the line. It is a sign
(a lyin' sign) for limit and transgression.
"Oh you see that line that's movin' through the station" —
we line 'em up and shoot 'em down.
The line starts here.

Heather, my favourite line is still the coast:
long stutter of islands and inlets
and on a particular beach, a shifting line
moving to some
equation: where the tide
advances and returns
across the level slip of sand.
I want a line as slow as that, twice-daily pulse,
or the breath-line pausing, reaching out
and coming home. Dear sweet familiar ghost
on the margin once again.


Stephen Scobie, from Spaces in Between: Selected Poems 1965-2001

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