Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Shipwreck, a Poem

By Claudia Ricci

O what do we do with what will we do?
It is the evening of the last day.
My companion is now
standing at the cliff staring at me.  With me.
When you have known someone this long, it’s hard to distinguish the
“one from the other” condition.

I say, “Look out there, the ship is in a terribly narrow passage of dark rock and there looks to me
to be certain devastation ahead.”

And then I wipe my eyes and the dream ends, and I wake up beside my husband of nearly four decades. 
Mouth dry,
So gloomy I can barely open my eyes.
And yet I still see the cliff and the light on the ship in the distance,
Rocking between the rocks.
In my half-dream state, I whisper,
How could the ship not flounder on those rocks?
There was moonlight, yes, yes,
But there wasn’t enough of it to keep the boat afloat.

I sit up in bed.
He lies there asleep.
Outside the window, it is spring
but the winter has wandered back in
The ice clings to the heart and the hull and the sails.
A nor’easter is up and the boat is glazed, sheathed in ice now
completely socked in by the bad weather.

Ah the boat, our old old weathered ark,
It rocks in dark dark water.
And now, I get up out of bed,
And I tiptoe.
I go below, and lock myself in my cabin.
The worst thing: there is no fresh air to breathe.
There is no fresh air to cry with.
There is nothing but the rocking
And the certainty that the ship is going to crash.
And now, I come to this:
What happens happens happens.
It only matters what description we give to all of it.
We rise we fall we crash we sail.
We look for reasons.

Was that lightning that struck the ship?
Was that a fire on board that could have been extinguished?
Or was the fire extinguished so long ago we forgot where we put the matches?
Or maybe this: the captain broke the rules and brought another woman aboard.
And after a night of sex and pleasure, he lay there smoking a cigar until he felt himself sinking into
            peaceful sleep.
Nothing could keep the boat safe.

Ah, but those are just the stories we might tell each other
my friend and me, standing at the cliff,
Staring out to sea.
If we cared enough to tell them.
This is our toil and our work: we keep inventing stories for why something
crashes and burns or sinks forever into the sea.
A better teaching might be this:
We might rather say the simple prayer, It is what it Is,
It is God’s will.
And please, forgive us this day, for what we need to do to keep our boats sailing.
Show us the real objective is to learn
to be content with our
Lots.  Our love.
As we course our way through the endless rough waters.

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