Monday, March 2, 2009

To the Harbormaster

My latest novel, The Moorings, has been a work in progress for more than two years now. But I just recently found what may wind up serving as its epigraph. Found it by happy accident, really, skimming through Frank O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency. There was the key word itself, right on line three. And after reading this beautiful verse a few times over, then giving it time to take root in my mind, I’ve begun to see this poem as the ideal way -- perhaps the only way -- to set the tone for my story. (A story which, at its core, is an examination of the tattered cordage of Matt Connelly’s will.)

So whilst not made for me, I thank the brilliant Mr. O’Hara graciously and posthumously for his gift nonetheless.

“To the Harbormaster”

I wanted to be sure to reach you;
though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings. I am always tying up
and then deciding to depart. In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand the forms of my vanity
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder
in my hand and the sun sinking. To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

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