Monday, July 13, 2009

Between Two Islands

This has nothing to do with anything, it just appeared out of the blue one day... but will anyone have the patience to read it ?
In fact, this was one of the first posts I did last September when I first started to blog, but am re-cycling it to the present time in response to a question asked by GG over at Not Waving But Drowning this evening, which was "Where's your spiritual home, and why?" Well, this is it . . .
Between Two Islands
This has been brewing for a long time…
For centuries now ?
Or maybe just a minute or two ?
The span of my life ?
When was that ?
Since birth I have traveled in time
But I always return when it’s time to be still
To the place between two islands
I know where it is
Those of you who know me
May guess where it is
You strangers out there
Who will never read this
And never know me
(Why would you want to ?)
Will never know where it is
Maybe it doesn’t exist at all
Maybe I dreamed it
Dreamed it up, dreamed it down
But whatever the case, upper case
Lower case, staircase
Mental case for a caseworker
It is a place we all need
A place we should be able
To dream of, dream about
A place we should all be able to go to
However impossible that may be
And I hope I never see you there
You hungry hordes hunched over your hotlines
Your coffee cups your super VGA monitors
Your newspapers your highways your movies
Your money your madness
I banish you all to endless night
If you know not how to dream
If you yearn for nothing more
Than membership in the hungry horde
Good god, go take your gold card
And buy the membership
Membership has privileges you know
With every purchase you grow farther
From the place between two islands

And that is how it should be
I don’t want to see you there
And there must never be a parking lot
No hot dog vendor on the site
Of my grandfather’s grave
He lies nearby and listens
When the mist falls on the marsh
In the breaking dark before dawn
He walks with the fog
He knows the cattail dance
And could show you the blackbird’s nest
Or where the turtle sleeps
He could reveal many such secrets
But chooses not to now
The long sleep was too enticing
My grandmother could tell you
She knows many tales
But spends her days dreaming
Of the long sleep
And is already more than half way there
The last time I saw her she hardly knew me
I had to tell her I am your child’s child
The child of your child
A faint light flickered of understanding
In her hazy eyes
And then she asked me if
I had graduated from high school yet
Me nearly thirty-three
One day soon she will slip
Into the long sleep
And walk with the fog before dawn
That hangs thick on the marsh
Stirred by the whispering breeze
In the place between two islands
What has always amazed me most
For a short while each time I return
And follow the sandy trail through the woods
To the point where it forks and one side
The one hardly ever traveled by
Leads out into the marsh
To the first island
Which is where you first start to notice
How quiet it is out there
Your feet make little noise
On the sand and pine needles
Even the occasional call of a jay or cardinal is muted
The sense of stillness, the serenity, is stunning
But what amazes me given the proximity
To certain large cities
Is that once you emerge
From the cedars and pines
On the first island
Into the space between two islands
There is no sign of man
No road. No houses. No telephone poles.
No billboards, hotels, motels, restaurants
Not a single fence.
Rarely a vapor trail follows a barely audible jet
High away above the islands
But the people up there
Are too ensconced in their martinis and novels
And fear of falling out of the sky
To even suspect what dreamland
Lies below them
No sign of man
The eye drinks in the thick green bands
Of the pine woods on the far island
And the pine, cedar, and holly of the woods
Way down on the far side of the marsh
But mainly the golden sea of marshgrass and cattails
Broken only by the lone juniper halfway
Between two islands
The space seems vast
The sky above equally so
Vast and still and no sign of man
This may be the only place
I have ever known real peace
In houses there is always something
That needs doing
We become slaves at home
To all the trappings of modern life
That we have learned we can’t live without
Our computers and VCRs and ovens
The rented movies the phone that rings and rings
The mirrors and clothes and books
The nagging sense that time is escaping
Time that brings each personal reckoning day
A little closer
The working world is an incessant nightmare
Driven by cancerous greed
Governed by constant stress
Full of days spent peering into haunted eyes
Faces where the pain is painful to see
People who gave up so much for so little
Apart from home and work
What else is there ?
I don’t go to church
I don't understand
How people can speak with such certainty
With such finality
About subjects which seem so uncertain to me
In my younger days I used to say
I couldn’t stomach such monstrous lies from
Pious pretenders steeped in pure invention
But I have tempered my language a little since
People believe what they need to
The world of entertainment is hollow too
Brief sustenance the stuff of illusions
We have become a race that lives
For the next movie
The next distraction to help us forget
The worthlessness of our age
And there is nothing you can buy
In any mall or mail order department store
That is going to help you
That will ease the burden
No drink no drug will make a difference
It is all still there when you come out of the coma
Great art will sometimes inspire
Calm and hope
That somehow things will get better
But unless you are very wealthy
You generally cannot surround yourself
With fine art and must observe it
Somewhere where you are not alone
The only place I have known
True and rejuvenating solitude
Has been walking in the marsh
Between two islands
In recent years
I am the only one to venture there
The trail across the stretch of marsh
Before the first island is usually wet
And overgrown, not to mention
The mosquitos that could eat a man alive
In the hot coastal summers
But I go in the fall and winter
And spring, the cooler times
The frozen time in the winter
When you can walk
Out across the marsh away from the trail
Without worrying about sinking in
Up to your knees
Once while looking around
Out on the far island
I found an old spring trap
Sign that some other human had passed this way
But did he know it as I do
Did he love it for what it is
This place between two islands ?
Did he ever sit by the juniper
In the middle of the marsh
And watch the sunset turn the sky
Over the distant woods
Into a blaze of molten gold
Riches beyond a banker’s wildest dream
No gold card privilege
Will ever open the door for you
On such unequaled bliss
Get in your gas guzzling car and drive all day
You will never find a place like this
Between two islands
Give up go home
I don’t want to see
Any of the hungry horde
Set foot here
This is sacred ground
There is no hamburger joint
And no pizza place delivers here
No cold beer to go
Nowhere to go from here
This is the end of the line
And the peace is overwhelming
In the place between two islands
Then again, if you have read this far
Maybe you are ready
Perhaps we could go together
To the place between two islands


Sixpence and A Blue Moon said...

I'll be back to comment on this later. I need to think about it...:)

@eloh said...

I expected to see an old farm...interesting poem.

Margaret Pangert said...

I think I know where it is; it's between two of the Sea Islands in the low country of South Carolina. being present in nature. tense anxiety is gone. No rush to get through the day. No lists. No modern technology or vendors. Digging for clams and cooking them in a pot. So delicious, so free of pressure. Yes, our grandparents got it, even when declining, even when gone.
Owen, you wrote this? It is so open and real, so full of meaning and feeling. what a reminder to LIVE, to get the most out of what we have left. This motivates me to start noticing the joys of summer and to stop being so busy. Thank you, Owen.

Steve said...

Everyone should have a place like this that they can escape to... and not see anyone else around.

Anonymous said...

"When the mist falls on the marsh
In the breaking dark before dawn
He walks with the fog"

Lovely image,


Jess said...

I want to be there. This is why I love to visit your blog. Thanks Owen :)

Lynne with an e said...

I know exactly where that space between two islands is: it is that peaceful realm where your heart is united with your soul; the space where your true essence abides.

Batteson.Ind said...

Is it the isle of mann!?.... ;-)

Loulou said...

Dear Owen, you opened your heart, it is...waouh! Beyond fear of our modern world at large and maybe anger (too much work last week?! or this poem was written in the past?), I could read hope. That's what I want to remember because you are generous.
The idea of such place "between the islands" could be a necessary illusion, something we need, with intensity, intensity, the one we give to the things, the world around, the feelings.
Beautiful and powerful poem Owen, well done.
Goodbye Mr Dreamer

henk van es said...

Hi Owen, I do remember very wel your first posts and especially the one in which you described going to the isle of your grandparents. You had a picture of a small path between the bushes or so, with a small bridge one had to cross. to reach the place where the memories of your childhood would concentrate. Did'nt need to look back at that former post because it is very vivid in my memory.
My own spiritual place would be the Baie de Somme, yes, that is in France...I happened to arrive there with a couple of friends sailing from the netherlands to Belle Isle. We never reached that isle, because of the bad weather north of Brittany. We halted for some days in the Somme Baye, and I'll never forget the impression the area made upon me, that part of the world between main land and ocean. Since then it is my place to be, where I belong, feel at home, not actually physically, but more in a spiritual way. When you talk about "between two islands...", I would talk about "between the mainland and the ocean"....(It's only an image, just spiritual, when in reality I go to let's say le Hourdel, I cannot wait to arrive there, but once I am there, after one day I want to go back home).
Thanks for the question (thanks to GG too)

La Belette Rouge said...

This is not a poem one can respond to in a comment box. This is an epic poem that could be discussed line by line by line. When I thought about trying to sum up the poem or address every point that hit home or hit a nerve or hit a home run I found the words dying and the overwhelm muting me. Let me just say that I am happy to be one who read this and who cares and who finds learning more about you to be fascinating.

Alexandra MacVean said...

Owen, such an open, real, and heartfelt piece of work. Does this writing belong to you?!?! It's beautiful. I was particularly pulled in by this line:

"To dream of, dream about
A place we should all be able to go to However impossible that may be"

Thank you for sharing.


English Rider said...

Your photos are always vivid and interesting but your words surpass them in imagery.

The Sagittarian said...

OK so now you want Clever Sod added to your list eh?
I have been back a few times to read this again and again, sounds like a great place to be.

CiCi said...

I have my own place between two islands. I haven't watched TV in four years. I am finding things within myself that I did not know were in me. My ears are hearing what is really being said. So glad for you that you have your place between two islands. No one can ever take it away.

Sar@h said...

Funny !
C'est le titre que j'ai donné à une de mes notes dimanche … Mais en français !

Owen said...

I would like to thank each of you profoundly for your responses here, and for having the patience to read such a long rant.

Yes, I did write this, some time ago, I'm a little older than 33 today... but not all THAT much older. Hopefully there are still a few more poems left yet in this aging sod... we're not getting any younger, eh...

The setting is tidal marshland in New Jersey, not terribly far from Atlantic City, that eastern city of sin... the casinos changed it dramatically from what I remembered it like as a kid... that's life in the big city I guess... but the marsh is still there, and still empty, may it stay that way forever.

Yes, thank you one and all, this may not be the biggest blog in the world but your warm words of support make it all worthwhile...