Though you are afraid of heights walk with me along the breakwater
   its narrow double-jointed finger crooked straight acroos the flat

plane of the sea, mountains the sun cuts jagged against the distant
   shore turning as we turn, each windblown angle we negotiate

widening our prespective, pivoting us farther out than we expect
   stepping tentative along concrete poured high above the endless

vertical skindivers travel along below the ocean’s surface, vicarious
   tangents you or I might fathomless have followed part way down

with other men, turning waterlogged back, amnesiac and gasping
   for air, intake lines tangles, guessing afterwards at wrecks we are

sure must list deeper still, literal and barnacled with what we let fall
   inadvertent, turning, slipping unnoticed through the currents past

waving skeins of kelp towards vanishing points few dwell beyond
   the lonely plane of the sea a polygon whose arbitrary shapes

alter as we zigzag along, the strait unhinghing, bisected by migrating
   birds and Cessnas, tugs and kites, our faces triny with sun-shined

breezes, the extinguised navigation beacon a terminus where unblinking
   we stop at the vortex of deafening, unheard-of waves, not caring what

vectors may later point us elsewhere while we take in the fresh sweep
   of the horizontals about us: ocean, sky, and shore flat and thunderous

horizons dazzling as lightning shaken out in sheets, the breakwater
   the long arms of a compass projecting a direction for every line

across other lines, many lovers walking arm in arm with us or away
   our arc ascendant, a half moon carrying us forwards unobserved

under open skies, geometries beyond the everyday plotted on the sea
   you and I: both of us graphing possible trajectories of the limitless.


* Please note that changes have been made to this poem since original publication.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Polygonics”?

I live two blocks from the ocean in Victoria, in the James Bay neighbourhood, so am very close to the Ogden Point breakwater, which, ideally, I like to walk along to its end at least once a week. The view is gorgeous: the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington state, Victoria’s semi-rural western suburbs (Sooke, Metchosin, Colwood), and, of course, the expansive water itself. The breakwater is not straight, but instead angles along, with two slight turns, as it shelters the harbour entrance. I became fascinated by how these turns shifted the geometry of the view as I walked along it, so decided to apply what I observed in the composition of a love poem.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Polygonics”?

The poem is a single run-on sentence that shunts through the lines of each couplet. I chose to eschew most end-line punctuation (the period at the end of the poem is one of the few instances of its use) to create more jarring and interesting enjambments as well as an accelerated speed. The poem draws on several distinct vocabularies (geometry, seascape, diving, to name a few) to create a linguistically rich aural fabric. For me, the poem is an attempt to express intensely observed and lived experience.

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