Tuesday, January 17, 2012


by Steve King
© 2011
All rights reserved

At once aware.
Wakening in dawnless wood.
Last flicker of a sinking moon.
Oh, he would have the sun,
but he would have his dreaming too.

Slow to move;
his unknown beckoned
through the in-between:
first touch of new light
settling like mist,
lent form, hung fragile,
clung to all still things,
enfolded slow each birthing hue,
threw fleeing scenes upon the air
framed in the very least of shadows,
forged in them the shapes of the old things,
desires worn nigh transparent
with his labored overuse,
shapes that must elude hard day,
stubborn reflections building a dark tide —
destinies too easily foregone,
the weight of ancient condemnations,
ties that bound him to old sins,
fires that branded once eager souls,
loves, unmeasured and unmet,
present now vaguely in regret;
all the old stories
too often told to be completely true,
yet true enough to give life to his dreams.

So sleep at last withdrew,
flew, to lie among more docile shades.

Silence gathered to him,
left a moment’s grace,
then cracked into the prelude of a voice,
summoning piece by piece
all that would stir,
all that awaited and might await,
aware or unaware,
seen or felt or conjured,
held or held apart,
all the one instant.
All one in dawning wood.

Birds rustled amid arid leaves;
stoic rocks gave voice to the waters,
winds rose to bend each pliant bough
across its neighbor;
rough music, tuneless and anarchic,
eternal measures out of time,
unsensed harmony
hymning of old hardships
and a coming bitter season.

“—If there were only stillness,
here would be a ready home…”

He might close his eyes,
imagine other worlds…
Or he might sing anew
the story of his age,
bend old themes
to fit the strange new times…
Or he might just move on
and let old spirits guide.
He might surrender,
again and again
to the pull of that stubborn tide…

the clouds would show his way,
winds call his tune,
though none to echo a hero’s name.
Had he incense or belief
he would stoke a coal,
appease a ready god.
For all he knew an empire waited
beyond the edges of his ruined map,
a place beyond the gravity
of storied griefs,
imagined victories,
and dreamy memory silhouettes;
a place where land and sea and sky and he
would join in perfect peace,
and render true all sacrifice.

But, alas, no gods:
there would be no blessing for his ease.
He might summon only fate,
and that, his own.
Already in the waiting hour
has he set his chart,
away, perhaps, from old spirits
and anchoring memories.
Perhaps away.

Abandoned in his step were the ruins,
forgotten, as he strode, all victory songs.
Already to his path
the twists and turns
that plagued his ancient line.
Already the wanderer
--his banner an old shadow
that ever stretched before--
set out upon the odyssey;
already, the old sojourner,
adrift again upon his stony shore.