Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Steerage (Dec. 16, 2004)

Another cold night -- into
the 30’s -- sleeping beneath
a heavy overwarm quilt,
my wife restless -- fretting
against the Tylenol PMs’
tide of obliviate peace --
our cat running around
the bedroom at 1 a.m.
overeager for treats I guess,
or just crazed by the cold.
I got up before 4 a.m.
just to quiet her down
with DoubleDelights
& allow my wife some
decent sleep. Downstairs
in my chair with my
cuban coffee & a blanket,
the heat on, tree in the
garden outside the
living room window still
lit, its bright white lights
like a burning icicle or
a too-near constellation
of an old winter night,
Pinkie in the box on
the chair on the porch
with its heating pad
& towels mewling a plaint
as I checked on her
through the guest
room windowed door --
just a head poking
out with sad eyes,
tough night again
for those indomitably
outside cats. All of
that calyxed around this
troubled, sea-stormy Christmas
season, heart wounds below
salted and tossed, unsettled,
all of the old childhood hurts
groaning in their graves,
rattling their chains, the
awful loneliness of so
many bad winter nights
drunk, lost, wandering alone
in polar regions of lost love,
crying your name into
emptying bottles, those
immense Siberias of need’s
permafrost shelling a soul
in ice hundreds of feet thick.
I carry such my broken
legacy like everyone else --
to each their own willed
and fateful cross, their own
great fire in ice. For all that
I pray for a happy heart:
that over such cold and
ancient sea-deities a
house or abbey or bed
or song may be erected
with a central door flung wide
and good food on a table
inside steaming into
the merriment of harp-
music, all in welcome
to the next desperate drunk
or lost lover or needy
river, to shores which
“protect and border and greet”
(Rilke) fellow labors,
companion songs. Despite
the grim facts of the day
poking up from the tide --
all those GI’s from Poortown
USA getting blown up
alongside Iraqi soldiers from
the poor world beyond USA,
villagers in Sudan getting
raped and split wide by
marauders of Allah,
the sea overfished and
polluted and emptying daily
of life, children in Kissimmee
getting murdered by stepdads,
drunks on the highways
like rogue waves headed
this way, flowers dropping
petals now iced: All of
that poking up in sullen
waves which are raw and
grey in the cold certainty
of first light, flotsom
which surely would haul
me by the ankles out
of this chair into the
long falling of a lost
silent scream: All of
that an yet the kingdom
of heaven blooms also
this day for those who
would loose their hands
from the rudder and let
the day course where
its tide allows and welcome
whatever appears on
the next shore. Every day
has its shitpile to dig,
ten feet forward and
ten lives down; you
can toss the dirt into
your grave or over
the wave with a smile.
Friend, may your season
be bright over the ice.
Lord, may songs delight
and entice the whole steerage.
Ferry this infant hope
to the bright star ahead.


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