Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Corollary (Jan. 22, 2005)

Fog as thick as bear-wool
in the windows as I shuffled
downstairs at 5 a.m. for
my daily vowel-voyage,
dense as the migraine
ringing in my skull.
Ah well. Prayed
on my knees feeding
Violet her Aquari-Yums
& then poured a
Cuban coffee into my
blood, rousing enough
of me from exhaustion
& headache to set
tongue heart & mind
on the next crossing
to you. Strijbosch in
The Seafaring Saint
tells us that the encounter
with a siren both
woman and fish
by Brendan and his
crew in the Voyage
has no corollary
in the other Brendan
tales, & is a motif
not seen elsewhere
before the 12th century
when it gets a
mention in Philippe
de Thaon’s Bestiare,
thus concluding that
the tale must come
from some lost text,
a Physiologus of a wilder
world, claimed by some
previous wave. Yet I know
the tale of St. Columba’s
founding of Iona in 563 AD
where an evil agent each
night destroys the day’s
abbey construction. Columba
himself stood watch one
night in that Hebridean
howl; and out of the
water and fog came
a half woman half fish
to inform him that
a sea-deity had been
disturbed and required
propitiation through
human sacrifice -- a
man to be buried
standing up in the ground.
That’s how St. Oran
found his way down
into the grave which
rooted Iona’s glory,
at the same time
harrowing down into
the oldest regions
of heart-wilds,
his skull filling with
the ink I write here.
So the siren in Brendan’s
Voyage has a tail
in my own book,
a corollary to this
daily enterprise of
surf and old swoon.
Meanwhile in 2005
President Bush was
inaugurated, speaking in
frosty cold of our country’s
need to make liberty
ring round the globe
and we all knew he
was tolling doom for
the axis of evil. I read
his speech in the New
York Times flying back
from Dallas, the 757
packed to every gill,
some fat guy next
to me sweaty and ripe,
another guy three rows
back snoring in a basso
so loud I could feel
in my feet amid the
rumble of jet-engines.
Outside the window
the Land of Liberty
looked like a quilt of
browns flat and dead,
sprinkled with town s
like a scatter of lost
booty at the bottom of
the sea -- our President’s
no Brendan or Oran,
his words Catholic
and imperial, all hammered
bronze, defending all
the wealth you can’t keep
in your hands when you’re
pulled hard below.
I was flying home to my
wife and our cats, home
to the difficult dream our
love is employed to,
making linens and writing
words the world seems
bent on forsaking. I dozed
a while to the drone of
the plane, my ears suffused
with claustrophobia
and weariness, too oppressed
by all of that to really sleep
but half hinged enough to graze
the water and descend, oh,
four or six leagues down,
to wrap my arms around
the fish half of the woman
who’s always just beneath
my waking, a dolphin mount
for her song as she weaves
the courses of insatiable
desire -- I daydreamed on
of naked women in watery
places not found on any
map, regions still with
God’s grace through filtered
through a blue which
lost all corollary to
our President’s dreadful
tone. Fog still a wicked
soup in the windows outside,
a cold front barelling down
(thunderstorms tonight
then plunging temps),
hopefully a visit to an
antique show in Deland
with my wife, celebrating
our life before getting
back to hard work
the world has few
corollaries for, though
she and I bend to
it hard, mortal halves
as we are to what
you and I engendered
long ago in that single,
swart kiss on the
deepest bed of abyss.
Bless us, love, to
love hard and well.
Protect us from
the gleam of that
corollary between
President George
and his sirenless hell.


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