Crossing the Stream
(Maku Mark Frank)

I set out to cross the stream once long ago.
Or maybe it was yesterday.
Funny, time can be like that.
I remember gazing at the other side—
The grassy lowlands beckoning,
The cool, green forest foothills
Rising gently into snowcapped glory ...
I remember wondering of the sights up there—
Above the clouds,
Beyond all worldly cares.
Oh, how I longed to tread that path unseen!
Sloping toward sunlit transcendence ...
But first I had to cross that stream.

I found a raft of four logs lashed together,
Hidden in the reeds there, half submerged.
And though the vessel’s simple nature had me wondering,
That I could see the other side left me assured.
And so I poled my humble raft into deep waters
With thoughts already soaring high above.
And it was clear that I’d gone way too far to turn back
By the time I felt the current’s tug.

Down, down, down the river took me
Till I’d have gladly kissed the ground on either side,
Past sleeping beachside towns and sweeping bayous,
And out into the ocean deep and wide.
Then just as my raft’s lashings were unraveling
And I was wondering what worse fate I could have met
The wind and waves began to rise up
And the sun began to set.

There was a time I thought myself much stronger
With ample will and strength in store,
But down, down, down those waters pulled me
Till I could fight their power no more.
And as I sank into the blackness
I could think of nothing but that shore
From which I’d gazed up at those snowfields
Feeling in need of something more.

And so I died to all I’d once been.
I died as well to all my dreams.
And as I settled on the ocean floor,
I died to every separate thing.
For one last breath I viewed existence,
For one last cold and watery sigh –
Upon the bottom of the ocean
Immersed within a star-filled sky…

There was a time when crossing to the other side
Still seemed as real as each new breath,
Way back when sun and moon, and stream and tide
Were as distinct as life and death,
Before that death to all illusion
There upon the ocean floor,
Before realizing that just this moment
Is the long sought after other shore.


Mplcreative said...

Lovely, Mark. It makes me think deeply about a number of things.

Tom Langley said...

Very moving and beautiful poem Mark! Thank you for sharing it.

I may share it on my blog here, give you proper credit, and link back to your post.