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Leaving the Island

Roo Borson
From:   Night Walk, Selected Poems. Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1994.

And then approaches the last ferry, our antics die down, and we wait quietly, if a little reluctantly, but tired and ready, for we are not perpetual motion machines, as the ferry glides in for that random thud, wood against wood, the signal that we can board. Or we could board, except for the uniformed gentleman who, every twenty minutes, back and forth from the mainland, holds departing and prospective passengers at bay, with great ceremony, and finally, at his pleasure, unhooks the rope.

Engine, captain, lifebuoys aside, the essence of the ferry is wood, which floats upon water, and whose varnished grain, in the last rays, gives off such homesickness. Homesickness for the forest, for that primeval state which we have just shaken off so that we might return to the city, to a life in which each transaction must be earned and paid for.

The brief return trip is thus imbued with the momentousness of our voluntary parting from what we think of so fondly as our true nature; a willful sacrifice, an anguish indistinguishable from the ease of coming back to a fmailiar life. At sundown another ship drifts nearby. Music comes from it, and soon there will be dancing. The ship is tiered, lit up like the birthday cake of a prince or a queen as seen from childhood, a childhood in which only what was codified seemed beautiful. For back then we had to build everything up from nothing, ignorant of the means, that the goal might be merely to reach these very moments in which we flirt with the impulse to demolish all. That foolish notion of courage. And yet finally our image of happiness is complete, insatiable! To live it all again, but this time with full consciousness, saturated with consciousness.

Roo Borson's works copyright © to the author.

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