The Ancient Modern

I Have No Island /  Joshua Alan Sturgill                            

What use to me is a map of the constellations?
Where could their music ever guide me?
I have no island.  

Spreading from my feet are continents
of leveled highways joined to leveled highways;
they rush out recklessly,
they bypass the valleys
they can’t wait for Spring. 

What use to me are the wild grapes?  
And nourishing leaves among the wildflowers?
And autumn trees heavy with walnuts and pecans?
I can’t gather or preserve their gifts.  
I eat what the city gives me.

How could I join the triumphal entry of the seasons?
In place of sacred palms, 
instead of branches from the bay and olive,
what discards of the city are worthy
to lay at the feet of God?

There were intended to be mysteries here,
caverns and hidden watercourses, precious gems, 
animals and birds unique to my shores.  
But the ocean recedes; the archipelago
becomes a headland; invaders 
pierce the virgin green with proud voices; 
I am overrun by explorers.

Now my meadow is a black pavement.  
Where might I find the face of Earth again
unmediated? Where is soil shared
with spirits of the forest?  
All my good is stolen before it ripens.

I look into the heavens for a sign, a message.
But the stars are silent.  
The key is lost.
I have no island.
I cannot be a child.


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2022 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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