Crossing Phillip's Pond While Contemplating the Time Remaining to Us in This Life

Brad Bostian

Monday evening, they last pulled the bell rope
At the old stone family church, Russell James
Was being tolled away and I recalled
That I had long since slid the little boat
Down the slippery bank and shipped the oars
To feel the solid land withdraw. Surely
Floating's a marvelous thing: upside down
The whole world hangs from a rippling sky
Or rises to meet an eye half drowned, and
Everything depends on words bubbled out
At the mouth. But bells are never silent
For too long, and it is only a pond
We cross to find the steady land again
And have no more need of oars or rudder
Or concern. If the boat it drawn high up
That other bank someday, it will be drawn
By other hands, and for an end unknown.
The rower will have gone. Sometimes the spire
In the darkening distance--for this is
Backwards work--diminishes as I swing
The working wood. The knell sounds even this
Far out and I pull harder still, thinking
I'm that much farther along. But what if
There were movement in the bubbles trailing;
What if the movement became a current,
Brackish and swift enough to stir the sleep
Of fish I've sometimes seen below? What if
Even fast into a maelstrom spinning
I followed my desire for an outlet
To the white sea, where I could be free yet
Cut off from my kind? But this is a pond
After all, where wind bends the wading reeds
And never time. The motion is my own,
But the far shore approaches just the same.


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