Empire Parable

There’s a man who sits on the shore every morning,
staring at the sea. And the sea stares back, defiantly.
It won’™t release its secrets easily. I’ll give you
an answer if I take what you’re offering me, says the sea.

When the man begins to weep, the sea yawns
with indifference. Tears are abundant here. As are
sinking ships and broken hearts and moons that drop
like shards of shattered windows. Prayers crumble,

brittle as leaves against wind. There’s nothing
in your skies or on your land I haven’t swallowed.
Or spat right back. The man, defeated, rises, drags
his shadow—a shadow? Or piece of cloth, a flag?

The sea keeps reaching for a closer look. The figure
blurs into the landscape and takes his story with him.
Waves crash against the rocks as if that sudden exit
hadn’t left the ocean waters floundering in wonder.

What was that? The question turns to driftwood
and knocks against the mass of land, thereafter
unanswered because the man never came back.
And so the sea sifts through its rubble again and

again and again and again and again in order to
complete this puzzle—narratives left unfinished toss
inside memory forever. That’™s why the sea comes
to the shore each morning looking for a man.

Rigoberto González is the author of seventeen books of prose and poetry. The recipient of Guggenheim, NEA, and USA Rolón fellowships, he is a professor of English at Rutgers University–Newark. 

Comments

  1. I love the animated sea in the poem. Does the man return?

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