The Ancient Modern

Song of the Pacific Boatman  /  Joshua Alan Sturgill         

I’ll follow the wideawake tern
over the boiling seas
over the lonely, swirling seas
over sky, when night
reflected in calm waters 
fills the deepest ocean depths with stars
beneath my little boat

O wideawake tern
where will you lead me?
Where are we going?
To your home on an island of gardens,
of nests among lichen-crusted stones.
Where will you lead me?
Where are we going?
Over seas like shining obsidian,
Over storm-seas of moving mountains

Beautiful bird, beautiful bird
lead me, I will follow you home
I will offer you palm seeds;
I will build my home alongside yours;
I will chase the rats and the hawks 
away from where your little ones are sleeping

O beautiful bird
when will we arrive?  
Will Orion be overhead at sunset?
Will Jupiter and Saturn pass close?
Will Venus wait for us on the western horizon?
How many moons will be our voyage?

Wait for me, my friend!
My boat is swift, but you have wings; 
My sails are strong, but you belong to the wind;
My eyes are clear, but you know the way


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

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