My Personal Helicon

(a tribute to Seamus Heaney)

Far from being a short and sweet path,
It paved the lonesome way to life’s early school,
For a child to learn as an elementary tool
To spell down simple thoughts and do simple math.

I see him in a vision trudging along all alone
Through the heat of the scorching sun back to his home,
Once under a sky darkening with an apocalyptic tone
To teach him about the dreadful day to come.

Never yet a reason to measure the distance,
Long or cut short, between death and life,
Nor a desire to make any acquaintance
Of sadness and darkness, all part of life,

And slightly off the beaten track was the well
Resembling a pit without a bottom
To draw by its certain magic spell
A wanderer whose thirst is impossible to fathom.

It was quite a long haul
To pull up the full bucket hand over hand,
Careful and mindful not to let it fall
Out of such a small wavering hand.

“Drink of me, poor child!”
But with no fear nor ear for her call
I quenched my thirst and smiled
At her voice now I can silently recall.

What a small leap it is from childhood
To a point in life called adulthood,
Still refusing to let go of the tight rope,
As if to draw some same old hope

Of relieving one’s ever-new thirst,
Since the moment he saw the day-light first!
Looking back deep down, I glimpse an image
Reflected of my self growing vivid with age.

Now the well is long gone, wiped off the surface
Of the Earth, though what I would there swallow
I feel sometimes leaking trails down my face
Like a drink for the remaining days to follow.

Well, I still don’t know how to live well,
Just wishing to be able to end my days well.
The faint echoing from the well I catch and spell,
Till, hopefully, I bid fair a dry-eyed farewell,

Myself being a child again, each time
Her call I recall ringing,
So my heart hollow can chime and rhyme
To hear myself, to set the darkness singing.

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