“Beginning the Journey” by Ruth Thompson
Something is ended.
She launches the small paper boat of it out onto the ocean
and turns to the west.
To wade out through glittering and foam, to lie upon the deep,
to be a membrane between stars and mirrored stars.
Then when her throat is full of all the voices she can carry,
to turn and swim for shore.
To run back, crying messages from inside whale fall.
That is what she is thinking: not about the journey,
but about the coming home.
And if there is no way back?
For now she must empty herself.
Empty her knapsack, put it down. Empty her pockets.
Take off her clothes. Empty her old head.
And if there is nothing left?
All her life she has skirted the edges, backed toward it,
listened secretly from the reeds.
But to go right in, to drown….
To lie under black water and let what wishes to be spoken
grow upward from her empty throat ….
No, no! She is not willing!
Still it presses in, it calls, it wakes her in the night.
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Ruth Thompson Artist Statement:
Ruth Thompson is a poet and conscious channel. She is the author of five award-winning books, most recently Whale Fall & Black Sage (poetry; 2019), and Quickwater Oracles (channeled meditations; 2021). Her new book, Journey Bread: New & Selected Poems, will be published by Broadstone Books in 2024. Ruth’s poetry has won many national awards and has been performed by Shizuno Nasu and other distinguished dancers and musicians. Ruth has a BA from Stanford and a PhD in English from Indiana. She now lives in Ithaca, NY, teaches poetry and meditation, and is the editor/publisher of Saddle Road Press. (ruththompson.net)