No Traveler

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveler returns

Upon our return from the islands of perpetual summer someone said you had left for the land of eternal darkness. someone you and we barely knew.

We were dismayed at your self-inflicted exile, a destination more daring than any of ours, and you so ordinary and timid. We kept score: how your winter buried our summer snow-flake for sand-grain; our palm trees shrouded in white like huge iciclic stalagmites, memorials to your willful defection.

We understood nothing: the wounded angels that lured you to darkness, their wings' music audible to no one but you; how you could not help but accept winter's unequivocal invitation, its long pointing finger of ice an eleventh commandment.

We never saw you tied to the mast, wax in your ears, sailing past wrecked floes, life's infinite claims - past the shadows and doubts attaching themselves like barnacles to your soul, past all things that had ceased to matter: parceled love, a day-lily unfolding, desperate telephone calls of those who thought they knew who you were - the world a grotesque bubble where all laws stammer, the rainbow no longer a covenant between you and any God.

We never noticed your vessel receding, surrender tangled in your hair, your cold cold hands your cold nets gathering darkness.

Later, we pinned down your shadow with handy labels we found in textbooks. Because the other language - doubt-ridden, winter-bound, in which you sang your laments and dirges to us so softly, so audibly, the one spoken in parts we never intended to visit - we branded foreign and refused to learn.

The Evansville Review