Often in the Fog poem by David Mitchell


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The still nights of this longest summer are
Kind in their fogbound separateness,
Useful for measuring time in which
No clock or calendar holds sway.
Lights fade to the obscurity of minds
Whose edges have been sheathed, gone to
Seek truths that antedate their vast ambitions
And to surf their medullary midnight lives.

When I became a sleeper in days, a child
For whom pain was banished only at the whim
Of others, their notions of suffering small
And full of brief remediation; when I was
Given the night watch and instructed in the
Keeping of others’ dreams, wispy clouds of
Fanged rage or reaching desire unrealized;
When I became a tracer of souls in recollected worlds
And followed the veins of their days across the
Backs of weathered hands and faltering hearts:
Then often in the fog I wondered why I could
Hear no voice at all, comprehend nothing of
Fate or future beyond the flow of rivers and
The flash of dawn cracking down the alleys.

But mountains would come, and the clouds descend
To them as fog to the sea, leaving me to pace
Duffy paths through new nights and old summers,
Salvor of the unsalvageable and dreamer of
Calmatives passed to dark-bewildered eyes crying for
Some tiny light; there is often peace in the
Mists of this final endless season,
And I still reach quietly into the abyss
To take the questing hand,
Now when time’s murmuring is hushed
Enough that I can hear and recount
The whisper of photons against the fog.

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