Lo, & I am worn with travail-
Many miles on broken feet-
More to go.
Traveller, you know the road, as do I:
Tattered socks, broken shoes, blistered soles, holes in my cloak,
When I set down my shoes at the door for the final time,
my eyebrows will be dripping with rain that falls on my broken feet.
When I enter:
hearth & kin & skin.
When travails & travels are ended and I submit to time & sleep-
(Submit to the journey of the mind, ever across, and over the dark river.)
Vultures circle. Vultures gather where corpses are.
Drooling beasts with tongues hanging over teeth.
Rough beasts behind, rougher beasts, ahead.
(I hear their howls as I try to sleep, my head resting on an old pillow with little stuffing, crooked neck, twisted spine.)
If I survive this night, I will pick up my pack and travel on-
Hearing the call-
Hearing you call over the treetops, over soaring pines, echoing off the rocky cliffs.
(Your voice could make an avalanche & bury us in rock. Your voice could shatter mountains. Your voice rips open rivers and spreads them across the land. Your voice.)
If I survive this night, if I am not swallowed by woe & I don’t drown in spit and shit and tears-
The children will ask if our travels can end, will end, ever end. The children will ask for food and we will tear into bloody meat with our teeth.
Blood will drip from our chins.
& even so, & even so,& even so.
I hear you calling, and I follow. We follow. We follow to the ends of this Earth, and even the next one.
(No broken feet, no beasts of sleep, can keep me from following you down the road. No raging river is too wide to cross. No forest too deep. Brambles and thorns. Mud and muck. Slashing thorn trees. Wind & snow & rain.)
Traveller, you know the road. You are ahead & I am behind. I walk ahead, turn my head and see-