Hatteras Calling


Conrad Aiken

Southeast, and storm, and every weathervane

shivers and moans upon its dripping pin,

ragged on chimneys the cloud whips, the rain

howls at the flues and windows to get in,

the golden rooster claps his golden wings

and from the Baptist Chapel shrieks no more,

the golden arrow in the southeast sings

and hears on the roof the Atlantic Ocean roar.

Waves among wires, sea scudding over poles,

down every alley the magnificence of rain,

dead gutters live once more, the deep manholes

hollow in triumph a passage to the main.

Umbrellas, and in the Gardens one old man

hurries away along a dancing path,

listens to music on a watering-can,

observes among the tulips the sudden wrath,

pale willows thrashing to the needled lake,

and dinghies filled with water; while the sky

smashes the lilacs, swoops to shake and break,

till shattered branches shriek and railings cry.

Speak, Hatteras, your language of the sea:

scour with kept and spindrift the stale street:

that man in terror may learn once more to be

child of that hour when rock and ocean meet.

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