Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, February 07, 2005

Echtrae (Feb. 6, 2005)

The main theme of the echtrae concerns
the entry of a human being into the
supernatural "Otherworld." The voyage
there is relatively unimportant. In the
immrama, on the other hand, the
emphasis lies in sailing from island
to island.

-- Clara Strijbosch, The Seafaring Saint

Are all shores required to surfeit one song
or is the one isle all, revolving like a whorl
of bliss between the cheeks of blue abyss?
The debate has long disquieted these waters
with two sort of questing men, the one in love
with every wave, the other settled down
in what one foam mounts and mazes
and expires in sweet ebbings from the ankles
of long enduring love. Last night I could have
used some connubial bliss, but my wife
came home tearful and torn, anguished
over her father's fear of dying in some
nearing day. I would have held her tight
to console her dark-diving mood, but she
was somewhere else, estranged by depths
of hurt I could neither share nor shore.
And so our dinner and evening of TV
was surficial and distant, the woman of bliss
I had dreamed the night before a
completely other door a wounded girl
had entered decades ago, never quite
to return. At times like that I wonder
if our lips have ever met, our words
tangential to the other's at best,
grazing regions we only think we share,
enough perhaps to forge a seam
sufficient for the days we call our
life's marriage. All those lost nights long ago
I harbored in so many different women,
slipping in and sneaking out the least
semblance of your uuddered Otherworld:
Easy to shade now as a boy's refusal
to grow deeper than a fearful heart allows:
But married now a second time and
delving surely in the years, I wonder
if I now come to know what so errantly
quested then. that atop the waves and
down the troughs are all the shores
one finds. As if communion was just a
penury of dream, the clear blue space
we share forever just that part of
a wave's fold and crash I'll never reach.
At least the sound offshore of every day
is sweet enough, and the next poem
isle and salt enough to ferry through the
day a flavor of your love. Indeed, my love
is one shore and my wife another; the
third is that strand she and I both
walk and is most inarticulate here,
defiant of any noun I name and
rendering all verbs of crossing drear.


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