I nearly called this blog Sailing Blind or Lost at Sea because those titles were more resonant with my mood when I started writing this poem a few days ago. “How can I steer a true course when the compass of my heart is broken?” I thought. But something shifted in me as I dwelt with the images that arose: a fog bank; slack sails; and the sorrowful sounds of gulls and warning buoys.
During the day, I spent hours writing and re-writing the few lines of verse that follow. Gradually, I realised that I may be lost but that I’m getting ready for a change. The journey that Chris and I shared is over but my voyage is not yet done. In the midst of desolation, a sense of possibility is also arising.
In less than a week it will be a year since Chris died. I’m coming to understand that while grief is not ruled by calendrical time, there is wisdom in the old practice of mourning for a year and a day. The mortbrod she made as a memento mori still hangs in the window by the front door, but it will not stay there forever.
Perhaps a fresh breeze will spring up, blow away the fog and fill my sails once more. If it does, I’ll know where it’s coming from. Chris lived her life as creatively and joyfully as she could. She would expect nothing less from me and even now I can hear her egging me on. As I listen to her voice, my attention shifts from the past to the present and I sense the possibility that the winds of change are coming soon.
The world is shrouded in grey fog:
no line of sight; no landmarks
by which to set a course.
The only sounds are screeching gulls,
and the dismal clang-clang clang-clang
of a distant marker buoy.
The broken compass of my heart,
knowing it is useless now, calls out:
Whither shall I steer if not toward you –
my beacon and my guiding star?
Look to what is truly yours, you say.
Find your own way to the shore.
So, I’m waiting for the fog to lift
and a fresh breeze to fill my sails;
for I have untrod islands to explore
and untold tales to tell;
a few more chapters yet to write
before the book of life is done.