He underlined as he read: he did it as though the book
were a house on fire.
His mind was searching for something
implacable and abstract that they had hidden from him.
Lots of pages ended up covered
by underlinings in pencil and ink,
black and coloured, one on top of another.
His meticulous, confused self-portrait.
His face gradually set
in the fixed expression of an anger
that came from having lost his way
in some profound incompetence.
And later there arose
the innocent smile of his silence.
He didn’t know me:
I was part of the lands
he had with such effort won back from the sea
and which the sea was flooding again.