for Relly Klarman

The pilgrims’ path, an unforgiving road,
Mirrored the harsh heavens overhead
And led through solitary overload
Into the seclusion of a wood
Where we were misled. The guidebook lied.
Beside the waterholes of lust and pride,
Mortal failings which we laid aside,
Interest, kindness, charity and greed
Prepared us for a fatal interlude.

Waiting for a word that did not come—
What if one waited and it never came?—
Perpetually frustrated by the storm
(The air pellucid and the shock waves calm),
We long for Boreas or Soderstrom.
Watching the weightless frigate birds that climb
The sky, we listen for the thrum of kingdom come
And wonder what at last we have become.

The view is tiny that once seemed so big,
And life itself, for which we steal and beg,
No larger or more important than a bug
And yet it is the only life we have.
The self you were not swift enough to save
Still broods on the horizon, a nest egg
Imperfect and perforated as a sieve.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 Number 1, on page 33
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