Image by Witold Krasowski/Thinkstock.
If I’m not Ulysses, I am
his dear, ruthless half-brother.
Strap me to the mast|
so I may endure night sirens
singing my birth when water
broke into a thousand blossoms
in a landlocked town of the South,
before my name was heard
in the womb-shaped world
of deep sonorous waters.
Storms ran my ship to the brink,
& I wasn’t myself in a kingdom
of unnamed animals & totem trees,
but never wished to unsay my vows.
From the salt-crusted timbers
I could only raise a battering ram
or cross, where I learned God
is rhythm & spores. If I am
Ulysses, made of his words
& deeds, I swam with sea cows
& mermaids in a lost season,
ate oysters & poison-berries
to approach the idea of death
tangled in the lifeline’s slack
on that rolling barrel of a ship,
then come home to more than just
the smell of apples, the heavy oars
creaking the same music as our bed.
Yusef Komunyakaa's new book is Warhorses.