Treasure Island

David Gascoyne

(10 October 1916 - 25 November 2001 / London / England)

The Truth is Blind


The light fell from the window and the day was done
Another day of thinking and distractions
Love wrapped in its wings passed by and coal-black Hate
Paused on the edge of the cliff and dropped a stone
From which the night grew like a savage plant
With daggers for its leaves and scarlet hearts
For flowers - then the bed
Rose clocklike from the ground and spread its sheets
Across the shifting sands

Autumnal breath of mornings far from here
A star veiled in grey mist
A living man:

The snapping of a dry twig was his only announcement. The two men, who had tied their boat to a branch that grew out over the water's edge, and were now moving up through the rank tropical vegetation, turned sharply.

He raised his eyes and saw the river's source
Between their legs - he saw the flaming sun
He saw the buildings in between the leaves
Behind their heads that were as large as globes
He heard their voices indistinct as rain
As faint as feathers falling
And he fell

The boat sailed on
The masts were made of straw
The sails were made of finest silken thread
And out of holes on either side the prow
Gushed endless streams of water and of flame
In which the passengers saw curious things:

The conjurer, we are told, 'took out of his bag a silken thread, and so projected it upwards that it stuck fast in a certain cloud of air. Out of the same receptacle he pulled a hare, that ran away up along the thread; a little beagle, which when it was slipped at the hare pursued it in full cry; last of all a small dogboy, whom he commanded to follow both hare and hound up the thread. From another bag that he had he extracted a winsome young woman, at all points well adorned, and instructed her to follow after hound and dogboy.'

She laughed to see them gazing after her
She clapped her hands and vanished in thin air
To reappear upon the other bank
Among the restless traffic of the quays
Her silhouette against the dusty sky
Her shadow falling on the hungry stones
Where sat the pilot dressed in mud-stained rags

He knocked the fragile statue down
And ate her sugar head
And then the witnesses all gathered round
And pointed at the chasm at his feet:

Clouds of blue smoke, sometimes mixed with black, were being emitted from the exhaust pipe. The smoke was of sufficient density to be an annoyance to the driver following the vehicle or to pedestrians.

The whispering of unseen flames
A sharp taste in the mouth.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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