the dinoflagellate as night-light,
enlightens a summer solstice
as I churn the cold Atlantic
and Harp, Aquila, and the Swan
illuminate the island’s rocks.
Maine is full of island-rocks
to host a hunt for noctiluca;
scattered feathers of the Swan
fallen in its night-light,
they float in the cold Atlantic
unhurried by seal or solstice.
Plotting equinox and solstice
to drown schoolboys in the rocks
of sunken cities, cold Atlantic
sweeps the shining noctiluca
to my hands, a night-light
rivaling suns in the Swan.
I do not need the Swan
as totem of my solstice;
many beasts of night-light
instruct the hundred rocks
harboring the alga noctiluca
from death’s pull in the Atlantic.
There is no drowned Atlantic
town ruled by the Swan;
principalities of noctiluca
dance at the water-solstice,
heedless of the darkened rocks,
to mark the reign of night-light.
True patron of knight-light
in the luminous Atlantic,
I would brave many rocks,
the crucifixion of the Swan,
to see you manifest at solstice,
Lady of Waters, Noctiluca.
When chanted rocks draw light
from Noctiluca, the Atlantic
calls me, errant swan, to her solstice.
\Noc`ti*lu"ca\, n.; pl.Noctilucae. [L. noctiluca “something that shines by night,”
from nox, noctis, night + lucere, to shine, lux light.]
1. (Old Chem.) That which shines at night; -- a fanciful name for phosphorus.
2. (Zool.) A genus of marine flagellate Infusoria, remarkable for their unusually
large size and complex structure, as well as for their phosphorescence. The brilliant
diffuse phosphorescence of the sea is often due to myriads of Noctilucae.
–Webster’s Dictionary (1913)
Note: This poem is a Sestina. Click here to learn more about this form.