At the Cutty Sark

by Maya C Popa


1.


The clipper without

sail or shroud,


a shell through which

the city gleamed


silver-blue at midweek

dusk. It was easy


to picture us returning here

in spring, strolling


the Naval College’s

orderly greens,


once site of Bella Court

built by the Duke


of Gloucester, at some

other time a hospital.


Between chestnuts

and desultory statues,


on the south bank

where the water


laps up steel,

we would have relished


the past’s peculiar

compulsions,


the ceiling painted

for the naval pensioners—


there was a world

before this one:


it moved like sun

over skin.


2.


At dinner, I showed you

pictures of New York,


like the Wilcoxes, the objects

just so at Howard’s End.


I’ll say I didn’t know it then,

not that I didn’t heed—


anything can be afforded

at the beginning.


You were a principle

of forfeiture;


I see that now, a hope

made void by prior hope.


A skeleton ship,

and London lit up


through it, the horizon

at capacity already,


suffused with an easy

absence of you,


stretched pale and

indifferent and new.


MAYA C POPA is a writer, editor, and teacher based in NYC. She is not related to Vasko Popa.


Art by Cleo Scott