Most nights, the stars seem many, and cold and aloof
And perhaps more beautiful for the distance
Flung like paint-spatter across a canvas of void,
The journeywork of the gods.
To embark and cross the sea to any single one, even that closest one
Laying down a blanket of russet across the bed of ocean,
Might diminish the whole, and,
The passage being too daunting to try,
I stay at home, in safe harbor.
Yet, my own work takes me out some days,
I mend and loose my sail, untangle and lower the net,
Hoping to catch enough to make a meal, or more.
And despite every good omen, once in a while,
Once in a span of years,
I’m caught by current and wave and wind,
Thrown out of reckoning, into abysm.
Strange islands brood there, through the spray,
Among the darkening, under black clouds.
The luxury of choice fades
With the glow of light diffused
When night returns, and settles.
Any landfall is a blessing, then:
A beach of sand pebbles in the grasp,
Fresh water collecting in pools.
Things quiet: thunder recedes, like tide.
I sprawl close under the beaten hull,
Shivering, exhausted, and pray
not to hear the beat of drums.
A single, clear star wakens me, with its pulsing
Somehow big and close, whispering a word through the night-surf.
Solitude, perhaps, but I’m no longer alone.
That star is a friend whose orbit I’ve chanced to enter,
Calming my blood with its gravity and even heat, and its thin, focused ray.
The passage home lies long, beset with dragons, maybe,
So I linger here, while I may, my own sinews knitting, before dawn,
For stars that peek through the storm curtain on a lone castaway
Come far, and few between.
By Shawn StJean