Monday, May 26, 2014

memorial day

The boat cuts through the thick blue of the Charleston Harbor.
Behind us, St. Michael's white spire gleams.
Ahead of us, the sad, stony fort, without a flag flying today.
Its rocks the color of blood;
 its memories the color of the sand on the seabed.

The wind pulls at our eyelids,
the salt air dries out our mouths.
We race through the harbor, flying like a diving pelican.
We cut through the waves like a hawk swooping to fish.
The privilege of flight has been granted to us,
I hold it delicately in my hand like my grandmother's blue glass bell.
Here I have the exhilaration, the adrenaline rush
that we seek, and settle for cheaper thrills--
the delights that do no delight.
Awakened by the salt breeze, I see the world more clearly:
the untouched, un-landed beach,
a sore sight to the eyes of ancient mariners,
the fish that jump out of the water with a burst of spray,
I breathe in the smell of changing tides.
We set our course to off-shore,
To the wide open sea, only porpoises for company.

In front of me, the sunrise lingers in the air.
Its delicate mauve hues paint the horizon over the endless waters.
The sun, hidden by clouds, leaks through the vaporous fortress,
casting its sharp rays across the sky.
Streams of sunbeams pour out of the solitary cloud bank.
The rays traverse the peachy-painted sky,
its color smites the heart, as sweet as the scent of a gardenia's blossom.
Its color is the type of color that only lovers use.
It's the sort of tender hue that is only found in the whispered words
from one beloved to another.
The heart-cramping loveliness painted into the sky can only be found
from the lightening look that passes between lovers' eyes.
A look that unites them, knits a delicate bridge
 across the eternal void between one soul and the next.
The color of the sunrise is the color of wooing;
the color of hearts breaking, of love oaths and selves dying.

The color of the sunrise fades into the blue of the morning.
The sun crests above the cloudy mountain,
its diamond treasure sparkles on the coarse harbor water.
I hold on to the fishing vessel as so many
men before me have held onto their boats in stormy seas;
as so many women have held onto them,
and at that moment, I am one with them.

Above, air sighs the pines. 
It was this way when Rome was clanging, 
when Troy was being built, 
when campfires lighted caves.
--How to Regain Your Soul, by William Stafford

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