The Fog

The fog sweeps up, a chaos of marching white
As visible as day, as blank as night,
Pouring and tumbling in and surging about,
A phantom army whose advance is rout,
Whose battle line, disorder everywhere,
Leagued with the onward motions of the air,
Begot of space conjoined with emptiness....
The foghorns cry like prophets in distress
Over disasters life has not yet known.
A bell subtends its dim, lost monotone.
One after one the houses blot from sight,
One after one, sunk deeper than in night,
Each landmark stops existence, and, unseen,
Objects drop out, with sightlessness between...

One strayed existence, and but one, abides —

Above the invisible rippling of the tides
A solitary grey gull sifts its way
Wing-wandering down a vastitude of grey,
A thing that seeks a drowned, familiar shore
And screams because a world exists no more!...

The fog retreats, recoiling from the wind;
In rolling banks it breaks back, fuming thinned;
Slowly the invisible earth returns; here, there,
A tree, a dune, a house; the open air
Falls free in straits and vistas, and the mist
Lies caped and islanded; last, — blue, a-twist,
Like lazy household smoke it mounts in space.
Each landmark re-assumes its wonted place.
The sun hangs, small, above, — an orange ball...

Then momently the rain begins to fall.
It blurs the distant boat, the black-etched seine
Up-standing in the bay; the continual rain
Falls fine, dissevering the tide's black flow
So that the varied depth of shoal below
Appears like satin in its patterned flow....

The tide draws out...the dazzling sun returns,
An intolerable furnace-mouth that burns
The beach as dry and white as any bone....

Not one lost gull, a drifting wraith, alone,
But noisy, wrangling gulls in flocks descend
And patch the shoals with white from beach to distant bend.
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