At what point is my absence
When they’re too young to know the need?
(But that time is gone)
Certainly not now
In the midst of life’s straits
With foamy waves pounding
And hidden reefs lurking
Beneath an angry, fluid surface.
No; Not now.
Now they need a captain
(is that presumptuous?)
Who has already navigated a similar course –
though more Hazelwood than Magellan.
(well, all Hazelwood and no Magellan)
Perhaps that time will be
When they’ve helmed their own ship.
Is my absence inconsequential then?
Can I cross the bar then?
Of course they’ll think of me and perhaps
Want to see my face and
Hear my voice
(or have me hear their voice and see their face)
But would my absence harm them?
in those later years?
That is the question.
But here’s the better question:
Would my absence now
be better than running them aground,
again and again
and taking on salty water to no seeming end?
I’ve given it a go.
But the ship lists endlessly and
The course seems fucked.
Would the idea of me
Be better than the reality?
That is the real question.
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
- John Donne, Meditation XVII (from Devotions Upon Emergent Occassions, 1623)
I'd love to hear any thoughts about the episode including thoughts on the poetry and the topics that were discussed. You can email me at [email protected].
If you're interested, I recently published two books of poetry which are available on Amazon.com: