No. 9

We stand most times at mercy of the winds,
And often unaware of which prevails.
At times a feral gust streaks past one’s arm,
At times a forward step is forced, or back.
Myself, most often, cooling drafts I feel,
Passing around my body, gently probing,
Testing paths of least resistance, taking
Stock of wilting points, examining my knees.
The more I get to know the winds, the more
They change direction. Howling gales will blow
Into oblivion as quickly as
The softest breeze will whip itself into
A rancour, stained storm, straining at my anchor.
Perceiving change in choppy tack is much
A skill as any. The power resides not
In feeling ev’ry little whirlwind but
In learning which will alter favoured course;
Which flurries one should not give leave to lead.
The winds blow constant, though my face may hint
No trace of print. They blow elsewhere, prepared
For other’s bearings, for the worse or better.
It’s in these instances that one feels lost:
How can one fly one’s own mainsail? The drift
Is paradoxical. The wind must sigh,
And spirit, it must choose. A burden that
Does not balance, will make the fulcrum fold,
Beset to fall to tumbling and tripping.
Sometimes I ponder on, when by some chance,
Attempt was made to commandeer the breeze –
No fortune was there found at journey’s end.
The channel seems reward enough; to catch
The wind, to conjure zest and float a while.
I long have stood, with open waiting coat,
Wide stretched to billow in the coming tempest,
Where none appeared. And many times my soul
Hung furled, oblivi’us to the searching shoal
Of whispers, whistling through maroonéd timbers.
The channel seems reward enough, I tell
Myself, and for the major part, it’s true.
There’s little we can choose, except of course
For where we bite and where we disembark.
And, as the fickle winds, they hold our sway,
It seems just wise, if choice we have but little,
To learn the paths by which the winds run strong,
And which, in budding of the zephyr, fail.
We powerless without this knowledge are,
Resigning to the reckless eddies oh
So senselessly. We bend but are unmoving,
Unable to discover that the ground,
As solid as it is, is more adept
At halting progress than the hurricane.
If there exists advice for any ship
Of purpose, it is this: be not the tree.
Freak weather will uproot, and commonly
A lack of wind will manifest inertia.
Obeying only matters natural
By the extreme, will strand one in a storm’s
Bleak eye; the lightning howling all around,
Forbidding one’s connection to the ether.
The winds will teach, if wilful spirits watch.
This piece of wisdom, treasured, handed down
The generations, thin and frail becomes.
The wish to know the mighty world of winds
Without experiencing, fresh and fierce,
The numbing, humbling hand of sky, results
In painted brows, forever bound. The winds:
They cannot touch a thing which is not airborne.
And what they cannot touch, they cannot change.
I’ve felt it many times, the changing touch;
Now running down my neck, or back, or crook
Of arm – it never seems to age at all,
But new it never feels. A shiver, here,
Might never reappear. A shudder there,
Too briefly studding cold with tepid air.
When I no longer sense the flowing roll
That makes the hair stand tall on naked skin,
I’ll know that I am lost. My only sin,
From then, will be a clinging to the stage.
I know full well that even though I know
The winds will carry me away, I’ll want
To feel, for one last time, the breeze upon my face.