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From Journey Homeward: Lost at Sea

Thoughts of a sailor on a freighter searching for meaning

At night, sailing through the dark, I’d lie awake

hearing the wind howl and the water break

and pound against the ship and there, lying

on my back, looking up into the dark,

I’d listen to the night above me, sighing

restlessly, while the stillness, stark

and jagged, made my breathing fall and rise

like waves swelling under moonless skies.

I’d lie there, rolling like the ship--no course,

no star, no way to steer, no way to force

myself to move in some direction, no sail

to catch a wind and so, I’d lie there

bobbing in the dark, hoping that a gale

howling through the night would blow me somewhere

closer to a coast. But no waves tossed,

and no wind blew--and so I’d lie there, lost.

Night after night, tired from the hours

in the galley, I’d search inside for towers

or lights--something that would help me find

my way to shore and lying there feeling more

and more as the dark nights passed that my mind

would sink before it reached whatever shore

it hoped to reach, I’d think of other days

rolling in like fog from distant bays.

That lonely boy in dungarees, sitting

by the creek, fishing by himself, admitting

by his silence that the rocks and trees

that filled his days, the sound of giddy birds

and rushing water were enough to squeeze

excitement to his heart and squash the words

that ached there. Words he did not have to speak

because each cast sunk them in the creek.

And who was that boy standing on the beach,

wondering if one day he’d ever reach

the place where sea and sky touch. Could he take

the poetry of that and say he had

to seek another world? Or was the ache

inside of him too deep to say how sad

he was? Did he know he had to find

a place where dreams and life touch in the mind?

Yet lying there, those shores would fade and I

would stare into the dark and starless sky

of my mind and like the midnight watch strained

to keep myself awake. Soon, I knew

I’d fall asleep and would not feel the pained

world of this ship. What was there to do,

lying in my bed, my body warm,

my mind in the cold eye of a storm?

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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