Poem · Poetry

The Sea Tree

The Sea Tree

With trepidation, I set off

Through the fierce waves

That clash around my feet.

I feel uprooted from

Such a long journey.

 

The salty broth sweeps me

Along the green wetness;

Misty are my memories

Tossed behind

Like dead leaves,

Those other days.

 

And now I am gone

Not as I began, deceiving truth,

But seeking it

And fearing it, hidden there

In the darkness of a heavy shadow

Of an old tree along the shore

Of this vast sea,

Somewhere,

The shore that holds me.

 

To turn back would be a lie;

To claim what once was

As what is, or

To claim that what is not

Is truth,

Is a lie.

I hate it.

 

My limbs feel long and strong

Yet worn, like bark torn and shredded.

On this sea journey.

I run to what?

The shore?

A dot it is, a bigger dot,

A continent.

I see it, I seek it,

I fear it, for

There awaits the darkness,

Unnamed yet vivid

With some gloomy promise.

A promise? A fate?

It waits.

 

I see it now, but

Not before the journey

Did I care

What fate is or was or

Will be.

I was a child then,

Bathing in a vast

Bubble bath sea,

My ship of ivory

Floating with me.

I carved it myself.

The best shape, broad, Spartan,

Ominous.

 

I had many battles that conquered

The foam and dirt

On my dusty skin, but I

Was never really clean afterwards.

I did not care to be clean.

No warrior dies without blood

In his nails.

I only cared

That my ship floated

And did not melt

In the hot water.

 

It is all a dream now,

Those times,

Those sunny times

Under the mint-green leaves

Of summer light.

But even then,

There were shadows.

 

To the shadows I was drawn

By humming bees

And chanting crickets.

I loved the sounds,

Sounds like no other.

I was there.

And there I went for good deeds,

I thought,

To step on the tiny ants,

Black, and shiny, and ugly,

To make them crawl

Towards my impending foot.

I loved the shadows for that

And the belief my sport was

Redeeming.

I was Someone

To contend with.

 

The sun seems hot now,

As it did then.

To wait for the deep shade

On that looming shore.

The waves sway me

To that beach of tall trees

And hidden trees

In a deeper, thicker, blacker heart,

To myself.

 

It is still there

I can see it now,

Black and still.

 

Always black is my mind

Inside, and deep is

The stillness within.

But it stirs with the shore noises.

Deeper and deeper it stirs,

Warning me, yet

Engulfing me and twisting me

As the sea is.

Away from the sunlit fields

And trees that were once

In the meadow of life,

A dream in time.

 

It is all a dream.

So deeply I dream in the blackness,

A dream that is a dream –

I hope is a dream –

But it stirs so real now,

As real as the chanting crickets.

And so fearful

But so inevitable,

It stirs with the beat of my heart –

The dream, the sound,

The truth of it.

It stirs.

 

I am alone, yes.

I should be alone,

And the shore is near.

I feel old;

I feel as old as life is.

I feel I want the shore

To be under my feet,

To be my roots.

 

And here it is.

The waves have slapped me

Onto the shore.

I look for the ship,

But it is gone.

I think when I see

That thick, humming veil of blackness,

Of my times in the meadow

When I crossed the shady paths

And killed

Those tiny creatures,

Those black, helpless creatures.

I stepped on them and squashed

Those tiny lives.

Oh the horror I would feel now

If I had killed the chanting crickets,

As well!

 

Deep into the darkness, I walk

From the shade to the darkest deep;

The beat of my heart stops

As the sea roar never will.

 

Commentary

This poem was written years ago in response to Heart of Darkness. This poem can be applied not only to Marlow and Kurtz but to all humanity because all of us confront that final darkness, the death of our ego, and have to come to terms with our deeds. The sea in this poem is life beginning and ending for this man, and yet, it is never ending.

The image of the tree is the man who is growing from an innocent boy, to an imperialistic youth, to an old man, who is facing truth. The shore holds the enchantment of evil, the seducer, and of the inevitability of a long-awaited death. The death is not just physical but spiritual with the realization that violence and domination are not justified. The speaker knows what awaits him and surrenders.

The root of any suffering is ego, which is the Shadow Companion that puts this man on a pedestal and deceives him into thinking that power and self-esteem are gained by oppression and brutality.  Facing this shoreline, the confronts his ego and must come to terms with his life choices. In this sense, his death brings anguish and grief, not salvation.

Copyright© 2018/02/12 Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.wordpress.com

 

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Image: https://pixabay.com/en/m%C3%B3n-sun-sunny-nature-blue-lake-2366603/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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