Tarshish

I think back

The years I scanned the sea

expecting its ships

awake till the glint of sun on the swells of the deep
and whenever a large flat-bottomed galley would tip the horizon
my sternum gripped my heart in wonder

Would it bring silver, potash, tin, flax
or rough-clad men wielding unintelligible shouts and scimitars

Although we all feared Tarshish

the life of the world passed through it
source of any uncertain smell unfamiliar alphabet

Tarshish lay behind every exchange from hand to hand
all that was indescribable that we had never seen

Somehow I never envisioned myself after weeks of travel
stepping onto that frenetic wharf
tasting the salt of unbounded potential
watching fabled treasures pass on camel-back

but even as I disembarked I knew
that no one can stay on that island

This poem was published in issue VII of the Heron Clan anthology.

Andy Oram
June 19, 2019