A Voyage, Part One
We'll set sail from here, a basement room,
Above the plains, a thousand miles from
Our story's setting, which will be the ocean.
Corn, sometimes, is like the sea, and I,
Sometimes, am like the man who sails.
He's wealthier than me. I'd rather not go
Back with him, but you have questions.
Fair enough. He made his money keeping
Columns, debits, credits, boring stuff,
And, now, at some age, fifty eight? ,
He's been divorced and told himself that life
Is short, and this would be the time to navigate
The globe, alone, upon a tiny boat, and here,
Not on the plains, but on the waves, which
Lap, unseen, off to the right, upon Somalia,
He sails. He braved the great Atlantic.
He was lucky. Mostly, it was calm. He
Wove among the storied islands, freighters
And peninsulas, and warships and the
Refugees, between Gibraltar and Suez,
Almost a freeway of the sea, but, now,
Beneath a beating sun, there are no ships
Nearby, no land, and nothing, save some
Little islands, to disturb his peace of mind,
His effort, to whatever end, to learn who
He is, what he means, and what this heaving
World means, until he's reached Australia.
He isn't me, okay? I know, he's almost
So old as I am, but I don't wonder what
I mean. I asked his questions long ago,
At first, within the inky depths of
Evergreens, a drowning man, so very
Nearly brought to ruin by the mountains,
Prison walls, and ever-gray and sullen
Skies which made me leave another
Ocean for these sunny seas of corn,
Where, once again, I asked, and learned,
And satisfied myself. I haven't meaning.
Nothing does, but this is not where we
Were going. We're with him, a furnace
Breeze propelling him through gentle
Waves, and he, with little else to do,
Is pondering the vastness and the
Emptiness of where he is, and
Wondering if what he's thinking
Differs from the thoughts which come
To spiders crossing ballroom floors.
We're tiny beings, born to move,
But what determines where we go,
Our will? Another's? Circumstance?
He can't decide. He wants to eat,
And goes below to find some food,
Relieved to turn from weighty
Thinking. He'll have weeks for that.
Comments about this poem (A Voyage, Part One by Lawrence Beck )
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