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Been working on this for two or three weeks. Sent a different version of it to Lucie for input. That version will be much longer - which is something I envisioned after the first draft and which Lucie suggested as well. Thought I'd post here to see what ideas others can share on it. Thanks for reading. Feel free to post your critique, pro or con.
The Captain’s Son
(or Footnote to a footnote)
Can you tell the sun’s position by a forced smile?
Are my eyes not unlike the hours left off a clock,
always at sea and blind under a stormy brow?
All things being ether-made, we are surrounded by
an emptiness that no longer recognizes devil or saint.
My mother rejected this absence out of a stagnant,
non-committal fear she hid in the hem of her mourning
dress. She recognized in me a desperate remoteness
yet made demands of the howling wind as I held
my arms out to meet the end of a cliff that was no less
than a beginning. “Captain Ahab was your father,”
she whispered into her semantic hands as I lost my
purposeful footing on dry land.
But I had known this as one knows his name.
I knew it as I never knew freedom from his abusive
Memory: A man cruel enough to never stop loving me
less than the mast of the wreckage where I was
conceived. That was where my knowledge met its end.
What came before his towering shadow, I know nothing.
Of the loneliness that engulfed him, I know enough.
I considered this as I reached out, quickening the
distance where sleep waits for me, my heart cold as the rocks
calling my doubtful name. Their borrowed shapes
offer little comfort against the feral creatures
living between crevice and desperate rumor.
Their names I have never questioned.
We are of the sea, I tell the nesting terns, mid-descent.
But they know nothing of my sorrows. The sea forgets us
when the moon calls to it, brief as that may be, I say.
But it does not forgive. It borrows minutes off our maps
when it thinks we are asleep, huddled against our mothers –
Who only held us because we reminded them of our fathers,
men of deep-seated ambitions and lesser means.
Isolation dictates too many things.
I compel my eyes open one last time before the rocks
take me. I shall call you whaler, withholding your true name,
I murmur to the salt on the wind as it keeps time with my
mother’s tears far above. I should never have been here,
I think feebly; my father gave his wealth to the sea, ignoring
my pleas from a distant shore, and here is my gratitude,
awaiting the high tide to forgive me. Waiting for my
mother’s distant circles to find and bury me.
I shall from this last hour carry the memory of
everything that haunted me. Of this
I have no doubts. Of the man sailed off
the world’s end, I shall ever have misgivings.
I will never write like you and I hope you never write like me.
"...the only war that matters is the war against the imagination--all other wars are subsumed in it..." -Diane di Prima