• Mark Whitten

A Letter to My Friends [Part 1] (Or "The Sea, The Wilderness and the Harbor")

Updated: Jan 27

[part 1]

I left you.

Some 14 years ago.

To brave the sea and its wild hope.

To colonize some portion

That God owed me in my juvenile presumption.

I was supposed to change the world

Like so many of us young men

Were meant to do,

While flames leapt

from our undefiled lips.

It was when we went where we wanted to.

But we are wiser now.



At first the sailing was sweet

And the waters calm

And the vision bright

And the wind warm.

As I had known it always would be.


And then the clouds gathered,

Like angry, disappointed faces in a premature mob,

And grew gray.

I heard great chairs

Being drug across heaven’s hardwood floors.

There were now north winds

Mingled with jellyfish rain

Stinging my innocent eyes and arms.

Shards of light broke the black sky…

…and scared me.

My ship became vulnerable,

In the lonely rocking sea.


I was too far away to call

Out for your help. And still convinced

That all would be well. Once I waited out

The storm.

So I did not trouble you.


Great mountains rose from the deep,

(Like some ancient lizard

shaking water off his spiky scales,

With their jagged hate

And unscalable walls)

And crushed my tiny boat in the darkness.



For I had no crew

To steer, and paddle

Or shout and rig

Or lean and dip

Or pray and clench

Or listen.

My crew was you.

And you were safe where

You were supposed to be.

In the harbor.


And so I found myself

Floating on my back,

In the middle of the sea,

In the middle of the darkest

Night alone.


Alone.


With no sail

And no ship

And no whale to swallow me.


But I did not call, for I

Did not know where I was

And you were far away. And I

Had no boat nor bottles

Any longer.

Nor bright vision to guide me.

And I was ashamed.

[To be continued]


Part Two can be found here. Part Three can be found here. This poem can be found in its entirety in Where the Wind Comes From: Poems by Mark T. Whitten

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