They recently met
----and recently spoke.
Both posed the same question
----agreeing to look.
Hopefully seeking
----they started together
----but life's not that easy
----and will not be . . . ever.
They saw in the distance
---a shimmering image,
---a castle of crystal,
---a carnival village.
If an answer existed
---it would there be found
---'cross sea toward sunset
---over unknown ground.
He hungered to find it,
---longing to soar.
He knew the seas's moods
---but was just one of four.
The sea for the sailor
---was moving and deep,
---limitless, changing,
---and breathing . . . asleep.
Those sailing the ocean
---put their trust in a dream.
There's no clear direction,
---no path to be seen.
Drawn gently forward
---a breeze felt by heart,
---lovingly, longingly
----searching for port.
The hiker, however,
---would travel by land.
Secure, well-surveyed
---the place he would stand.
Never to nature
---surrender the power:
---better left untouched
---the jewel in the tower.
So they tried to compromise.
Wagon on rail,
---sea on each side
---the sailor set sail.
Through soft sunset mist
---this opposite pair
---both knew in their hearts
---this would not get them there.
The other two silent ones
---both went along
---knowing that direction
----was hopelessly wrong.
Sooner or later
---the tracks still uncrossed
---will come to an end
---and the jewel will be lost.
Tower vision absent
---they sadly will learn
---that nothing remains
----but to slowly return.
Better to say
---at the very beginning,
"This isn't a question
---of power or winning.
One of the two of us
---must pay the cost.
All really that matters
---is that the jewel not be lost."
He pulled on the rope
---and the wagon was still.
They parted sans rancoeur
---in the post-sunset chill.
"Please treasure the beauty,
---that's my only prayer.
Good luck to you, Hiker,
---and safe journey there."
Written over 20 years ago during a "cross-roads" period of my life, reflecting upon the drawing by Chris van Allsburg, wonderful author and illustrator.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this beautifully written and thought provoking post. I read so many messages into it, not the least of which is compromise. Sometimes, we reach compromise with others, and sometimes we reach it for ourselves. In some ways, I feel that I am in the latter. Were you able to resolve your indecisiveness at that time?
The image you showed is also very evocative. A very moving post, for sure.

DCW said...


The situation resolved itself but the manner of its resolution caused something similar to recently arise, a repetition of a cycle like the periodic passing of a comet.

For evocative images it is difficult to top "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick". Well worth a quiet evening's perusal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tip. I will for sure take a look at that!

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  • Solar - Ian McEwen
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