To Row An Apostolic Sea

26 November 2017

Many leaves make up
the forest of books
on the shelves of my home library,
leaves, many-veined
with words, a multitude of words
gathered to be read, a multitude
to teach one.  They bear
an abundance too much
for me to absorb.  In the forty-six
years I have possessed an unabridged
dictionary, I have yet to read
every word, every page.  And that is
but one book of some
seventeen hundred volumes that help
furnish my thoughts.  Please,
no quizzing now.  For as sure as you
ask me for facts they will fly
from my head. As for categories:
travel, food, a slew
of books about France.
I’ve poetry favorites, and reference,
reference, reference.  I am convinced,
without books, the planet earth
would cease to cohere.
Books are gravity embodied.
Books keep me grounded.
Books are the world made miniature
I can fit into my small house.
How else Chartres at my fingertips?
How else the Golden Gate,
not to mention the Rosetta Stone,
and what is left of the whole of
Celsius’s library, where Paul
could possibly have checked out a book,
perhaps one on the cult of Artemis?

It is at this point in the poem I find
I must row Paul
to his ship set to sail south
along the Asia Minor coast,
as far as Tyre, as far as Sidon.
He is an amber flame of a man,
burnt by the sun, and by his
beliefs, an amber flame sailing
a cold azure sea, sails set
for eternity, for which they are, still,
set that is, two thousand years later.

I row back out of this poem
to the couch where I sit
in my living room in Mystic,
thinking of how long the journey is,
and how sweet being
one allowed to experience it.

Philip Kuepper
(8 November 2017)

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