Your Eyes, Oceans

An epic poem, Inspired by Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, which meditates on the idea of a single glance which sends someone on a lifelong journey from which they eventually return, unrecognizable.

 

Introduction

Once, so terribly long ago, your eyes

Alighted on me, and in falling cast

The die of my whole life, showed me the prize

That was to be won if I could hold fast

 

Against the howling gales of mad fortune

which flung my vessel to the farthest reach,

held me locked in piteous extortion

No pity then to find on that scorched beach

 

Upon which I’d wash up, a world away

from that familiar rut I called a life

Another, and another dull today

So occupied by self-directed strife

 

In that brief moment, we began to dance

My soul set free, imprisoned by your glance

 

I

That dawn came angry, hard and cold

The fault, I must admit, was all my own

I drank up all my farthings, and was told

to meet the Mordant, but to come alone

 

The captain, such a stern man, needed hands

And, desperate for berthing, I agreed

Perhaps believing his pledge of new lands

Despite the wicked folly I did read

 

Upon his craggy, execrable face.

“The winds are hateful,” he whispered through his teeth

And so began the unannounced race

To some forsaken place that lay beneath.

 

What secret bound us, I could not be sure

Some fetching madness did his aims obscure.

 

 

II (First Meeting)

We met amidst the stacks of books

- or was it, then, the market stalls?

Of some pacific, coastal town

whose name, in highest reverence

will go forever unspoken.

 

“The mayor’s daughter,” someone said;

I cursed my pristine foul luck

That I would fall so hopelessly

for the child of authority.

We were so young then, and so free

- free for one last gasping moment.

 

Seeing my decrepit state

And my need of sustenance

You handed me a piece of fruit

- or was it, now, a luscious book?

Slowly creeping infection

have you corrupted memory?

 

I didn’t think to smell for poison

But then it would not have mattered - 

You would have hidden it too well

Effected administration

with perfect, silent stealth.

 

That wondrous laugh - so light, so soft

a buoyancy that sought the clouds

and yet, in lifelong retrospect, 

A smashing thunderclap of ruin

Portent of my destruction

harbinger of utter doom

and yet also a sweet foretaste

of my most cryptic salvation.

 

Some angel’s breath fell on my ear

But oh, that angel - in disguise!

Face hidden behind a mask

and that laugh so well transformed

by some dark ancient magick.

 

If I had known what lay in store

I would have prayed for this, and more:

 

Merciful God, wash out this stain

this blasted mark of endless pain!

 

For when, soon hence, I’m laid to rest

I will have been both cursed and blessed

 

to bear the scars of adoration

nurse the wounds of dedication.

 

Vast love, triumphant defeating

arose (by chance?) from that first meeting.

 

III (The Captain's Secret)

The captain, for the first few quiet days

Contrived, upon pretense, to let me rest.

He cried with an inebriated zest,

“Before too long you’ll work a thousand ways!” 

 

The ship, though small, comprised a maze

And, he let slip, one berth contained a chest

Which, locked thrice, he, scheming, did attest

Would damn its opener into a craze.

 

“If you should breach those locks,” he, wide-eyed, swore

“I’d have you drawn, quartered, then burned,

and spread the ashes to the farthest ends

of this defiled earth, and hex your friends,

your family, and anyone concerned,

and worse, much worse, for you would lay in store.”

 

IV (Powers, Principalities, and Hosts)

And then he spoke the terrifying word

that haunted me the rest of my long days.

The wrath of some fierce beast I had incurred,

a fiend who only blackest Dark obeys.

 

“Your suffering would only have begun

For my terrific powers lay beyond

This world, for I give worship to the One

Who to my deepest pleadings did respond.”

 

I dared not ask for him to give the name

For even in the hearing, it would turn

My ears to dust, my flesh to scorching flame

And yet, for more defacing would I yearn.

 

The Powers, principalities, and hosts -

These he had mastered, in his haughty boasts.

 

IV (The Truth You Hide)

But how, dread Goddess, could you ever find

yourself, so perfect, powerful, in love

with this mere mortal, of the basest kind

Allow him your so precious heart to move?

 

Ridiculous your protestations vain

Deriding all your haughty laughs, for show

I know that in your heart do you sustain

For me a love as strong as cruelest blow

 

As strong as mine for you, but how is this

That you, the princess, for the pauper fell

Upon my lowly lips bestowed the kiss

That cast me down into the deepest well?

 

The answer? Poetry itself, you see

For Gods that curse bestowed so well on me.

 

V (A Tramp, You Say?)

You feign disinterest, you cast your gaze

Upon those many well-appointed other men

Whose costumed regalia lordly pays,

Flamboyant, spending for my single ten

 

But though you let them shower you with gifts

Receive their visits, publicly display

Affections where you condescend my thrifts

I know that in your heart a slut, dismayed

 

Discredits all these purchases bestowed

Demeans herself for selling maidenhood

Within her breast, where girlish virtue glowed

A tree of innocence so proudly stood

 

Now there is only hatred at yourself

A soul, packed out of reach upon the shelf.



VI (You Give Yourself Away)

How do I know you love me? This is why:

My whole life I have been consumed;

You let me follow you without a cry

Of terror or alarm - you have presumed

 

to think me worthless, in your haughty schemes

and yet I know you love me most of all

though you could never, in your wildest dreams,

admit unto the world, or self, your thrall

 

to my unworthy person, beggar chap,

unwealthy flotsam floating in the foam

of dire humanity, discarded scrap

rejected, unwanted, without a home.

These crooked lines enslave you utterly

Your soul they render, willing, unto me.

 

 

VII (And now…)

And now, the glance

It was always going to come to this

After all, it’s in the title

 

And oh, that glance, that merest casting

of knowing eyes upon my depths

an in a finite moment of eternity

 

A hundred, thousand, million, billion

Cycles of the cosmic self-wheel

Exist for this, my brilliant, precious jewel

 

An object of all striving, knowing, haunting

Sine qua non of my very breathing

beating, flowing, consecrating

 

And yet, am I holy? Surely not

At least not on my own, but with you

the sacred lives in our every moment.




VIII (So What?) 

And so what? You love me and I,

of course, love you commensurately.

But to be fair, you started the whole thing

with your coy, yet most artful, dramatics. 

 

My obsession began, as they all do,

unexpectedly, and with no fanfair

(other than the dazzle of your stargaze

upon the ripples of my blue lagoon)

 

I had not expected, nor was I seeking

a new love, or anything like it. My heart,

so tattered, and uncared for, wanted only

to be left alone, to nurse some well-worn wounds.

 

And now I realize the exact moment

you first fell, utterly, for my subtle charms

“A teacher?” you always repeated, after I

disclosed that education was my passion.

 

After being so long abused, I had forgotten

what it’s like to recognize The Feeling

in The Other. But now, thanks to you,

I gloriously remember, and have returned.

 

You seemed so lofty, so far beyond

the reach of some anachronism

like my debted self. How could I ever 

expect, or dream, that you’d want me?

 

But want you do. And how, you ask

do I presume to know? I’ll tell you:

Your breathlessness, you schoolgirl you

“A teacher?” a wise one, you must have asked

 

So many times, to yourself, in secret,

For if we’re honest, you are still not free

To love me, because you have agreed

to love, and remain, with another.

 

And your fidelity, despite the odds,

In the face of so many challenges

Is where my true respect begins.

But will not end, without the meeting

 

Of our lips, our souls, our selves,

In some world-ending cataclysm.

The Wise One says fear not destruction

for it’s Love, remaking all Creation.


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