You must take up your oar
and go on a journey . . . .
— Tiresias to Odysseus
A thousand-thousand wings scull and churn
in borrowed light. Brants, swans, pintails.
Dunlins cruise along the shore. The pink bells
of huckleberry advertise in woodland shade,
where hummingbirds obey the frantic
press of spring, the lush unfolding rush
of the Great Turning. Yet I despair to see
spring come around, unstoppable as rain,
the muddy runnels with their running flood,
glad daffodils in every garden. The season
will not stop for me, for what I’d will to do,
or haven’t done, and all those years that spun
into those other years, and gone. “Our friend,”
“Our father,” on stone, the men drowned
in Shoalwater Bay, 1878, out in a storm
come sudden up to take them. Where I
wander at the shore, frightened by
the slanting sun, my wanting heart that ate
on dreams refuses now the promises
of spring. I take up my oar.