Two runners are crossing the shore by night:
     Their sound on sand, their lithe iambics gauge
The certainty of arrival and return
     Before the wide encroachment of the waters
Smooths out their footprint frontier. Cloud
     Keeps dulling the cusps of a moon
Just risen. A steadier glow
     From the endless necklace of the lungomare,
A fitful one from the circling beam
     Of a lighthouse that dapples keels
Close-packed, rocking at anchor.
     For lovers crossing the shore by night,
None of this is their concern. They see
     In the unpaved pathway a chosen destiny:
They choose each other and this place,
     Place to return to and by night re-pace
In the twilit ritual that runs between
     The competing geometries of shore and sky
Where the first stars prick their courses.
     Lovers, how many years of light
Await you behind that sky I cannot say:
     Your compact with the dark will guide you where
Beneath time’s leisurely eye, the common day
     Tests this accord that was confirmed by night.

Charles Tomlinson

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 20 Number 8, on page 38
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