Floating Library

(Alaska Cruise)

Walkers Against Breast Cancer march on the Holland Line’s promenade —
Paced and spaced evenly, facing the same direction, circular, for an hour —

I, too, should be doing something useful, but I ever defer to these others —
Our Alaska Cruise, we’d never have done something so bourgeois

Unless someone else paid for it, and what cleans up after moral inventories?
— A vacuum cleaner goes on, the staff wants me out of here, then it shuts down

With a sound like a flying saucer, then the sound of the plug snaking across
Wood floor, with sickening weather beneath the feet an entire day now.

Gone: ease with the Inner Passage, and that inexplicably benign knowledge
Within joy that joy isn’t going to last yet the world is taking its sweet time.

My dwelling is the “Erasmus Library,” folly, make me wise and well.
Green moss isles like turtles, turtle by, humpback islets, propagate,

Seals, dot seal-dotted stone shoals, snow, sharpen bicuspid or cuspid mountains.
On these mountains glaciers are testifying bright tooth-white rivulets,

And, in time, calvings, and floes the size of boats melt to aquamarine
Pea-green sea from starboard, where you and I were absolutely giddy,

Watching a wake of white-gray bluish streaks shellacked by clouds and the molten reflections
Of mountains. Then a ranger ended her spiel by quoting Fitzgerald’s bit

About a violent new world commensurate to our capacity to wonder.
May the absurdity of this allusion prove to be just how true it is.

May wonder, human, prefer to stay put and wave from a dock or a deck,
Kind-of-together us… yes… and everything all about us is with us.

But no one would wish to spend all that long stranded in the sublime.
Finally, wholly, devastatingly, it isn’t perception that annihilates nature,

It is human-sponsored motion, underwriter of inactive observation.
Whereas gulls ride ice floes as log as it takes till the sound eagle wings make

Alone must signal them away because they don’t turn around to the eagle,
But, instead, glide idly back, just as, less often, the same eagle does,

Bringing me around to fears I have created, hoards of my own problems, if only
To have something to return to, though, even with renewed belief in recurrence,

Which depends on such sheer, inexorable conclusion as glacial disruption —
In which we all unwittingly participate, speed up at every turn till here we stall —

I still come back down. We doubt both the natural world and the body.
How else to fully experience for ourselves some perspective of a “world”

That as opposed to the earth, is so stupidly, blindly, aggressive humane?
Are clouds the most yielding and therefore lasting forms that can possibly be?

While these clouds appear to aspire patiently to see themselves across the sky
We marvel at the light into the night so far north, in unmitigated pleasure

We write off too quickly as something banal and un-grown up, like unmooring
From a world of deadening responsibilities waiting behind every door

To see even more marvels, though the quieting of conscience is oppressive
Beyond all understanding or any consolation of natural wonders.

I could go on like this forever even though not one snowflake has solidity.
Experienced from inside some absolute motion must be what forever is,

Some desire at the center of wonder, some absence at the center of desire.

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