Monday, September 29, 2008

A Long Poem

This is a long poem that I wrote in 1996, at a time when I was being consciously non-monogamous (and had been for 3 years). I'm monogamous now, not from any moral judgment about monogamy or non-monogamy, but because I have made some conscious choices about how I want to focus my sexual energy. I'm posting this poem because I've always liked it.


They walk, who cannot
take another way,
but still have the
will to go on.

Each step a different one
on any trek, now pebble
under instep, now rock-
hard, sun-dried mud
bruising heel, now
delicious softness of the
pine-duff gathered under
the coolness of
branching shade.

This is how we must go.

There is no vehicle to
carry us, for no roads
have been built in this
terrain — no map shows
the way, and no
evidence of other
travelers here can
comfort us.

Some nights we will all
wander blindly about,
having not had the sense
to stop when darkness
fell — perhaps we will
forget to keep hold of
hands and become
separated — then we will
call out, bleating pitiful
into the black depths
until one lost soul comes
closer to another.

Perhaps we won't really
come upon one another
until morning.

Perhaps we won't hear
each other calling, or be
confused by the echoes
into frustrated apathy.

Perhaps we will just sit
down and cry with
exhaustion without
we are back to

Some days we will have
very little to eat and

Some of us will have
saved our rations and
others of us will have
squandered them and
there will be important
moments of decision
about when it is
important to nurture
one's self first and when
it is necessary to share.


we won't know when
those days or nights are

Sometimes, we will
double back over ground
we covered before
because the path we
thought led to the high
place went into a
dragging deep lagoon
with quicksand and
vipers instead.

Sometimes, we will
argue all day about the
way to the water that we
can smell and see and
almost taste far below
us, and in that arguing,
never arrive.

Sometimes, we will each
decide we know the way
and we will strike out
alone in separate
directions only to find
ourselves united at the
same destination in spite
of our pride and because
of it.

Sometimes —
we will come out of the
most frightening dark to
a glade so breathtaking
that we weep in one
another's arms, all
struggle of the trip made
worthwhile, and all hurt
forgotten in the healing
of that place.

Upon embarking,
whether or not we now
admit it, we gave up our
and surety

beyond the
certainty of saying

"Yes. Here is a
sycamore before us. A
foxglove in bloom to the
right and these five
stones gathered under
the cliff."

So when we think we
are lost,
let us just stop and laugh
a moment.

Let us unroll the pieces
of parchment we've
carried in our packs and
fall down, helpless in
our mirth,
undone before their

There is no way.

We are always lost.

We are never lost.

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