True North

If you travel in a line as straight and rigid as a middle-aged school-master,
the world will fall away beneath your feet.
All maps are folded and creased and yanked taut
to fit around the whirling rock and pulse that is the Earth.

In the small of my hand I hold a compass:
the needle is a fragile sliver which has spun round for years,
like a traveler's tracks across the desert, precessing from one mirage to another,
where the contemplative hermits are just bones on a tabletop and dry words;
the disappointments that they fled---bored lovers and bad investments---
still sting beneath their skin like windblown sand.

Someday that needle will point, unwavering, northward,

and from the spine of a mountain range I will clamber down,
descend into the forest at night---I can imagine this,
walking across the snow which crunches beneath my feet
and in a clearing, ringed with the black silhouettes of trees like a congregation,
I look up and see the northern lights---
I have never seen the northern lights, but I long for this
---I see a pale luminous dance in the sky
a faint wash of all that might be and all that could have been.
Here at the top of the world I lift my arms.
I want to be embraced by spiralling winds of numinous electrons
that will touch me with a faint kiss
and lift me, carry me, finally, after all my journeys
to the home that I have been seeking,

carry me, maybe, to you.