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For Gordon and Carol

I don’t know how long

I’ve been afloat,

I just know that I’m far from home,

facing backwards, lining up

the landmarks I have already passed,

as the sea lifts and drops

and frantic gulls wheel overhead.

Tired, I want to set the oars amidships

and drift for a few moments

watching the waves gnaw

against the bluffs,

but I don’t dare,

for the swells and stones

would splinter this dory

as if we were falling 

inside that burning building

I saw so many times on television.

I do not rest

but I dip the oars,

bending into them,


and again.

“There is a kind land”

I tell myself,

“just beyond the next headland

or surely the one after that.”

John Straley

September 2005