Northwest Passage

The heat of day fades as the sun slips west,
some foreshadowing path leaves me longing.
My eyes are fixed and watch her sink away
to lands but told in myths and legend’s jest

I’ve heard the tales, oh yes, I’ve heard them all.
A path toward a future, gold and bright,
mapped out by lazy currents and good tides.
But still elusive, efforts ever stall.

And, in a dream I saw them sail before,
Columbus, Lewis, Clark, and even Cook,
in search of passage to the Orient.
But I set out for what the heart wants more.

All dreamers, forging on with naught for sense,
obsessed with glory’s promise, riches, gold.
And though they did not find just what they sought,
the discoveries they made should recompense.

A new world full of riches not foretold
Prairies, mountains, friends among the tribes,
New ferns here, and bison everywhere.
And oceans full of islands to behold.

What new world is out beyond,
waiting, waiting, should I respond?
Keep your silver.  Keep your gold.
A different beauty I behold.

Their descendants killed the bison
and the tribes on each horizon.
Could I succeed where they have failed?
Preserving beauty where I sailed?

And so I worry, always wanting –
for the task is ever daunting –
to keep the treasure in the beauty.
That should be a wanderer’s duty.

But later men have proved it so
in countless tests, from high to low,
we change a thing by simply seeing.
We altar its beautiful being.

So ‘haps its best to keep away
and be contented with our gray.
Just let the flowers bloom alone
without a reason to be sown.

Yet if we do, then more the loss
both to us and to the flowers.
For beauty without our beholding
makes a flower not but dross.