Home, thought Odysseus, is just another stop
on this rolling sea of terrors.
Worse than just another stop: home,
relentlessly identical, grinds hope to a dust
that drifts over state lines.
For every city I wander through, pastel
or gray, and each island adorned with orchards,
the filthy bays dotted with boats,
seems charged with its own death-like energy,
a current nearly dead in the walls and bark,
but present, and sustained so that no one discerns it,
like locust eggs enduring the years.
When the muse eludes us she arrives just here,
dormant in the hollow cells. Calls
won't rouse her, nor will entreaties, false in their elegance,
distract her from her covenant with death.
In death-like spaces she accommodates us,
but only in silence, her hand too steady as she pours our tea.
Home, thought Odysseus, is the crate of spices
carried dry over the sea, the jars
of undiluted oil. A trick of wood, an uncanny ship:
a displacement of water,
home. An annoying knot
falls open at last, and
a hulk slips from its moorage,
receding over the lacquered sea.
John R. Campbell