A Youth on the Stairs 5-14-01
Years from the past I remember-
sailing a Star in mid-September.
But...But the mist all around-about,
Is it the spray over the starboard bow
with the sheetlines awash
and the sea streaming off of the jib...
Or is it the memory of the past washed out somehow?
The salty spray of the Mississippi Sound
Reddens my eyes as I reach out to the Horn.
Closing my eyes, I drift in the distances
of miles by the thousands
and soon I am lost imagining atolls and lagoons,
pure beaches and reefs of magnificent corals.
With a jerk, I awaken and find myself in an Astro van
hurling up I-85 with six kids and a wife,
heading to a house on a small hill at the foot
of the Blue Ridge Mountains, ending with a sigh
in northeast Georgia.
But, what happened? What happened? What happened?
A dry tear fights its way to an eye.
With pale face and shaky grip, I realize
That the dreams that could have been--
they became the prey of the fears ravaging within,
exactly like the shoals and heartless breakers
that splinter the keels of so many boats.
And as I turn onto the familiar gravel road,
I groan within as I understand what has happened.
(They only see me as stern.)
But they didn't know the youth on the stairs
with his possibilities,
gone down in the gales of his own fears.