An Elegy

Written by Toburn Arun, on the anniversary of his uncle’s disappearance.


I’ve tied a thousand heavy knots of line,
Trying to remember how you once
Instructed me. But now, over all this time
And under pressure to succeed you since,
I’ve set this crew to wander on the seas 
Through waves adrift, sails slack, oars shipped.
Their once inspired faces turn to me
Gaunt and craven, tonguing brine-soaked lips.

Would that sailor turn instead to sailor
To seek each other’s lead, I fear at last
I’d be forgot. They’d recognize my failure 
And hang me from this rime-encrusted mast,
My corpse a ghastly, patched-up warning flag
To any man who dared take up my role.
Yet still I fear the most the coastal crags
That long to dash this ship upon its shoals.

For although to die is not a wish I hold,
I fear the most to let my people go.
To leave them in this time of fear would cause 
Them to forsake our rightful path: they know
Not where we travel to — our lone ship plows
Onward, and we must seek to set our course,
And call our men to together turn this bow
So we can weather any coming storms.

My country is the wind that salts my hair:
Her saccharine song pulls me to the brink
Of sea and earth, to breathe the misty air,
To watch the churning waters rise and sink.
And, whispered wonders by her breathless voice,
I’m drawn again to her. If now it falls
With me to lead us on, she is my choice:
I must now go — to heed the ocean’s call.