Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Tidesman (Dec. 29, 2004)

My longing for you
is a man inside this hand
who walks forever by that sea
we once walked together on,
praying to and cursing
all the waves.
He is the altar-boy of
salt wonders which washed
his brow so long ago
inside the crashing thunder
that washes all to blue.
I remember driving
over to Atlantic beaches
20 years ago -- to Cocoa,
and New Smyrna and,
most wild, Playalinda too --
where I’d walk the summer
dazzle of sea-breeze and
hungry blue skies, the
sun pealing this
testicular fire over all,
tejas as brilliant as
the sea’s dark spires
plunging cathedrally
down to doom out
on the hurtfullest
margins of a life.
How I’d walk there
humming a bossa-nova
tune, scolding and
entreating the day’s tide
for calling me so forcefully
to that surf but delving
no woman up from the blue,
no love to match my
belling ache for you.
What wounded, salt abysms
tolled in me, love’s faithfullest
anchorite, stranded there
so mercilessly alone! What
betrayal I felt, or foolishness,
to have you so utterly yet
never there upon the literal
strand which called me
from my dreams! One day
I kicked a wave and turned
the other way for good,
driving long miles home
through Florida’s waste
of scrub and pine. Up
in the sky storm after storm
launched cannonades of
thunder and brandished brands
of blueballed fire. I drove home
to my sordid life in the
ghetto of the 1980s,
back to corporate days
and wilding nights. Yet
a man remained back at
that beach and forever
walks that tide, his song
the same as the sea’s, his
thirst immense and unslakable
though he’s sloshed forever
to the knees. I’ve housed
my longing all these years
a chapel by blue seas,
it’s single simple room
whiter than the sands which
fade down all the ways
I’ve walked in search of you.
Three cups sit on the altar
amid a pale blue stone
smoothed by all the tides
that man has stood in
up to his knees, search
and beseeching the naked
wash. And though I gave up
long ago on ever finding you,
that man forever walks the
strand, no more able to
turn away as dive to drown
in blue ennui. Each word
I set down here is like
the footfalls of that man
across a damp and
dazzling sand, a ruthless
faith in crashing water
which slakes undrinkably
in those woeful drowning depths
which yield at long and fateful
last your swooning emptiness.


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