Winter 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 1 Poetry |

Friends on the Rocks of the Shore of the Night

A band of Tocharians, wearing out their exile, conduct the excavation of their own basements, searching for clues in the hidden minerals, chemical stowaways. Then they come alight with the passion of the disembowelled to spill from the running boards of a drifting coastline. In the endless minute before docking, the language runs through available frequencies with a list: Every high tide is lower than the last, so the warnings against deep water have been exchanged for warnings against shallow water. The filtration plant is heard gasping for its life, its great metal gills ceasing to purge the mixture of salt and fresh waters. On the beach the imported sand that is finely combed has not been disturbed for weeks. The lakeside is reserved for the people, who ignore it. So many bridges were begun, at the various dates carved upon them, but the first piers always sank into underground streams and furious quicksands. Everything now built is based on old photographs, which are dis

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Rod Menghham lectures in English at the University of Cambridge where he is also a fellow of Jesus College. He has published several books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century writing, most recently Introduction to Contemporary Fiction (Polity, 1999).

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