A half century ago I was a welcoming port of call in
a buoyant place, a person to drop in on or
drop out of, adrift in a private sea of stormy
inwardness, trying to love myself with
conviction. The only ideas to reach my calm outer
deck fell off my young lovers' backs as they
They sought authenticity, oblivion, and an exportable
knowledge. They had aspirations. They
wanted to become painters or poets or—two of
them—painters and poets, eager to face
a decade or lifetime of envy and disappointment.
Why do you aspire, I asked, don't you know,
silly boys, that either you are or you aren't?
They weren't. Neither was I. Oh how complacent
I was in my ignorant omnipotence: float to
sea with me, I urged, where we can embody no plan,
no hope, achieve nothing worth dying or
living for except perhaps the melancholy luster
of delicious duty-free hand-me-down trips
to bed and back.
Did I know then that in a flash we'd be ancient,
that we'd be tending shrines and gardens
and graves? Did I not know then that the honey we'd
so innocently spread would attract the mob
intellect of fire ants to bedevil us in the night? How
did I know I'd outlive us all to become, at
last, a port of call I've come to call my own?
Sheep Meadow Press
Copyright © 2014 by Kathryn Starbuck
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission