The Ship
Stephen Sturgeon

to Alison Walsh

Why, for some peep of meaning clear,
Should we ourselves deliver
Up to the stream, which even here
Roars past us like a River?

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman


I did not learn the passengers' names.
I may have learned them but in the way
that one does not learn the learned thing
But the name of the river and of its ministry
I learned


This river everyone I have met has fantasized
and dreamed of as monster, mother, saint,
at least I have seen this river
though from the crouch of a stagehand.

In my time in this boat I have looked down
and no longer do I think answers
should be composed
to questions

It is becoming clear to me
one may construct a house out of the river.


And it has become difficult to understand
what of our thoughts has been provided
by the river's stalking voice. And we are in fear.
Our actions will not be ours when we are called.
Looking last night into the core of the sky
I saw my wailing mother.


The letters I have written to the world
while traveling in this boat
contain the same message more often than not
The world is terrifying
and this boat is not much better
but it is better.


I have narrated the betrothal of my will
and the arrangement has embellished me senseless.
Fire plays inside the unplumbed trees.
This boat takes part in that game.

Nothing has been built to navigate
a boat like this into our sensations.
This may be Sumatra.
I cannot fathom the fathomable.


Memory of a window
In this boat there is no window
The destinations I would delay
to see a window

Through the window I would imagine air
from the top of water climbing in
clapping my arm and finding me distinct
from the limitless other bearers of windows

and evening would continue
sights of friends standing in the trees outside
blowing their sanction onto my activity
stormed up and perpetrated far from hoax

for the window was my friend

Window window falling fast


In my hands my eyes

I admit I eventually took out my eyes

held them a cantankerous moment
and cast them into the river
hoping to see what was there
and if indeed there was something
in the caverns constantly at work
diligently creating

And in demented darkness
I rose into a demented sleep

My eyes were back
when I awoke

carrying the outrageous memory
of the actions blistering beneath this boat
that I remember
it is foolish to communicate


In faith we held to the unswayable route
with this boat twining reality
and at that we felt honored

even as another future
precariously guarded its events
in all the moments this boat threaded.

For who of us would be cursed to evaluate
milk clambering from the rock's cleft.

I am a young animal
tearing away at life.