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Voyages Analysis

Author: Poetry of Philip Levine Type: Poetry Views: 183

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Pond snipe, bleached pine, rue weed, wart --I walk by sedge and brown river rotto where the old lake boats went daily out.All the ships are gone, the gray wharf fallenin upon itself. Even the channel'sgrown over. Once we set sail herefor Bob-Lo, the Brewery Isles, Cleveland.We would have gone as far as Niagaraor headed out to open sea if the Captainsaid so, but the Captain drank. Blood-eyedin the morning, coffee shaking in his hand,he'd plead to be put ashore or drowned,but no one heard. Enormous in his long coat,Sinbad would take the helm and shout outorders swiped from pirate movies. Oncewe docked north of Vermillion to meeta single spur of the old Ohio Westernand sat for days waiting for a train,waiting for someone to claim the cargoor give us anything to take back,like the silver Cadillac roadsterit was rumored we had once freightedby itself. The others went foragingand left me with the Captain, locked upin the head and sober. Two days passed,I counted eighty tankers pullingthrough the flat lake waters on their way,I counted blackbirds gathering at duskin the low trees, clustered like bees.I counted the hours from noon to noonand got nowhere. At last the Captain slept.I banked the fire, raised anchor, cast off,and jumping ship left her drifting outon the black bay. I walked seven milesto the Interstate and caught a meat truckheading west, and came to over beer,hashbrowns, and fried eggs in a cafenorthwest of Omaha. I could writehow the radio spoke of war, howthe century was half its age, howdark clouds gathered in the passesup ahead, the dispossessed had cloggedthe roads, but none the less I alonemade my way to the western waters,a foreign ship, another life, and disappearedfrom all Id known. In fact Icome home every year, I walk the same streetswhere I grew up, but now with my boys.I settled down, just as you did, tooka degree in library sciences,and got my present position withthe county. I'm supposed to believesomething ended. I'm supposed to bedried up. I'm supposed to representa yearning, but I like it the way it is.Not once has the ocean wind changedand brought the taste of saltover the coastal hills and throughthe orchards to my back yard. Not oncehave I wakened cold and scaredout of a dreamless sleepinto a dreamless life and criedand cried out for what I left behind.


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