As no one tied me to the mast.
I dove in headlong, swiftly swimming
To the nearby stony shore;
And there was dashed against the rocks.
Tossed by churning waters
Back and forth, in frothy foam,
Drawn by voices indistinct,
Disjointed, stretched in violence.
Disoriented where the waves fell
Hard on boulders’ jagged edges.
Lost — my former goal, my purpose —
In this great new urgent need — survival.
Where are now my boon companions
Whom I should have charged to bind me?
How had I abandoned them,
And let my yearning overwhelm
All my training, all my wisdom,
What experience had shown
Must inevitably follow
Following my yearning heart?
Now I strive to make some sense of
Where I am, of what confronts me
How to exercise control of
All my strength, establish bearings
That will let me choose a handhold,
Hold a jagged edge of boulder
Flexibly, just long enough
To thrust myself up free of swirling,
Tossing forces that would dash me
To disjointed pieces if I
Let them overwhelm my strength,
My purpose, vision, goals — my future.
Now above the cliff, surveying
What my strength has won for me.
Calm, reflecting on my struggle,
Turn and set my foot ahead.
Dedicated to Michael S. Tribble, who wears Ulysses on his arm.