a poem: open waters

open waters.
in high school, in college, in my first year of teaching and living overseas, i knew exactly where i wanted to be. i wanted to be in Korea. i was in a boat rowing hard down a single lane track with all my might,
Korea at the end, the prize, the destination. nothing could have gotten me off that track. i might have hit the sides a few times and come upon some rocks but i only had one way to go, forward to Korea.
forward, straight, with no veering and no uncertainty. it was comforting, and infuriating, to see that one track
and all that one track left to row.
until i went to Korea.

but then Korea came, the flag passed overhead, i threw my arms up in victory, waiting for applause.
my hands came down, slowly, as i looked around in the silence.
behind me the track, closing down, fading as i gazed,
ahead and around of me, open water.
no lanes, no destination, nothing but some rocks
and gulls overhead, looking for the dead.
the dead who are in open water and don’t row.
i began to row.
i’m in open water.
i miss the single lane. i miss the safety of knowing,
i miss a signpost to steer to.
i miss the stars overhead pointing a big arrow.
these stars are just pictures.
where am i supposed to go?
what am i supposed to do?
who am i supposed to be?
with open water comes freedom, and paralysis.
with open water comes me.

4 thoughts on “a poem: open waters”

  1. Ahh, what a great poem full of great imagery that has described your a slice of your expat experience. It’s funny I was looking back at my bad attemps of poetry during my Ecuador time. Poetry is such a great way to distill the experience, I feel like it instantly takes me back.

    I love it, really. I’m gonna share on Twitter!


    1. Haha well, I’ve never tried poetry before these last few weeks, but I was reading Bukowski, and, well, he does that to a person, I guess. I started to think in blocks of text, and this came out. But it needed to be written like that. Anyway, thanks! I’m glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

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