Sappho's 9th Life – Sojourn With The Ferryman
As river, Ferryman, you do what you're told –
you hold to the health of salt smell,
etch the moving paths wider,
topple wave over wave
under strong wind's flying touch.
Why, then, do you refuse
the songs I've modeled on you,
as if the silted verses, crashing refrains
tough with voices spent years ago by now
have had the wrong thing in mind all along?
These were ringing clues I could
find for you, not give you – you with your
gushing spine contained in a ragged shirt
risen in an arc. Then you down on all fours
sniggering in your boat's wizened bow.
On the shore today, many potential
passengers. No one trusts or quite believes
a ferryman's promise, save under duress.
The river that you are toys with them, wheedles.
The trick is to make them believe this is only another trip –
certainly not the last. Why o why
won't you sing? Ill or well intentioned,
music on a journey works wonders.
& yes – who could have foretold
I'd end up getting lost among the ones
in a costly other side?