January 19, 2016

Stephen Dunn

THE CROSSING

You will soon be crossing the great waters,
the captain said, and there was a broken violin
behind him, and a harp that played by itself.
You will soon be crossing the great waters,
he repeated, and it will forever be too late
no matter what time it is.
This followed by a familiar hush of importance.
I was both the dreamer and director of a dream,
that much was clear, and I was the captain too.
I felt no fear. In the distance a stage-set sea.
When the captain said, Self-consciousness
is your life raft, you must leave it behind,
I suddenly wanted to protest but couldn’t
form the words, my mouth a cartoon
of a mouth agape, frozen in impotence,
a bubble of silence issuing from it.
Then we were setting out, the captain
and I, into the vast expanse on a windless day,
every scud in the sky a face from my past,
and all around sharks with their broad smiles.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002