Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Blue Map (Dec. 23, 2004)

It has been noted that “the death
of an unwanted island was a lingering
one,” and it took the Isle of St. Brendan
some thirteen centuries to disappear
from sea charts.

-- Gillis, Islands of the Imagination

Age erases longitudes like a tide:
increasingly you are freed to walk
that utmost isle no man
has even dreamed, much less found,
though each day I sail full toward
that ultramarinal. That sand
as bright as a cunning angel’s smile
oh so slowly washed from the map
those futile nights, year after
year after year, going the way of
dragons off the corners of that world
which was a bed of crashing,
failing hopes. The map rewrote itself
upon a blue too true for any
sextant to hold fast, too wild for
any mouth to name, much less kiss.
I’ve sailed these paper curraghs
too long to think any more that I’ll
find you, nor doubt that you are
master of its tide and trade winds.
Our love has bleached from one map
amid the bones of each disaster,
the split whalers bled of men and
their ferried perfumes, the broken
harpoons still fast in the ribcages
of rogue whales. Gone, like a castle
by the sea washed flat by all it once
could moat. Each vanishing isle
appeared upon another map, the
secret one we share, locked in an
old oak chest beneath the bed
you toss and dream upon while
I wake and walk these days.
Each time I let you go, another
isle appears further out on
that blasted map, a wild and crashing
land of melusines and silvering
strings tuned to a noctilucent breeze.
Each poem sets you further out
upon that tide of unknown truths
which has no latitude to proffer,
not even just one kiss. Ah but
all these voyages sustain that
prior bliss which made every
encounter in my history
a similitude, its thunder folded
in a larger, older wave.
On this map which has no edge
and is inked by my life’s spoor,
you’re on every beach I fail
to find you on, askew and perplex
like first light upon the rollers
in from doom, so pink so blue,
so meta-cerulean, so sinfully
UltimaTherulean, bringing with
this new day new shores to burn away.


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