On Not Seeing Rocher Percé

Anne Swannell


Expectations. Absences. Out there—somewhere in the fog—
a chunk of rock we’ve come all across the country to see.
What we believe is there—have been told is there—
have seen photographs of—
is swathed in many-layered tissue now:
a gift from the gods that’s been withdrawn,
leaving us to conjure for ourselves sun through mist,
light on water, water on rock, chiffon ribbons wrapping,
unveiling, revealing swells that lift
then drop away.

Makes me think of that time we went to Versailles
when every mirror in The Sun King’s Hall had been taken
for renovation. We were not, as we’d imagined, multiplied.

And when we entered Gormley’s Fog Box in London’s Hayward.
Afraid of getting separated, we held hands
to probe its choking brightness,
your other hand and mine straight out ahead—
divining rods to help us find what keeps us close.

Like two otters I sometimes see down on this shore
that form an ever-moving question mark—
a twisting double-helix, linked/locked yet always altering.

From behind dead weeds—
ragged darkness against a luminous mist—
comes a sound and a silence.
A sound                        and a silence.
One shackles us,
one sets us free.


Anne Swannell is a Guest Writer for Panorama.


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