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.
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
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
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.
To be continued...