Author's Note: With these two poems, this particular section of Colqugoun's quest concludes. In following months, Miriam gets her opportunity to tell her story.
The Andromeda Galaxy
On the moving surface of the deep, Colquhoun’s tiny boat rose and fell. He lay on the deck, sweat saturated, and in blank daze stared heavenwards. He was utterly spent. Above him the velvet dark was littered with the diamond splash of stars, the named constellations, the white swathe of the Milky Way, the fragment of light of yet another galaxy, the mighty Andromeda Galaxy, perhaps twice as large as the Milky Way, a trillion stars, light travelling from 2.5 million light years ago to now reach his face, touch his eyes and enter his mind. Colquhoun wept. Why are we, who lie beneath the stars, who inhabit rolling sea and wind-swept land, who share the world with whales and shearwaters, with creatures that slink, burrow and soar, who hold eternity in our hearts, why are we so small? What mad oppression have I seen? What mad horror have I witnessed? Desperate, desolate, seeking release, he closed his eyes, shut out the stars, desiring his mind to be bleak and empty. Then, instantly, with visceral clarity, came a kaleidoscope of images of Elizabeth. He was walking beside her on their familiar paths. He felt all the deep intimacy of their shared life. He saw her pregnant with Miriam. He saw the love and devotion of her nurture as Miriam emerged helpless into the world. He felt her love, how it sustained him and grew more rich with passing days. Finally, he saw her face close to his. Again, he wept. Your love is too special for such as I. For all my selfishness, I repent. For all my thoughtlessness, I weep. She looked at him and smiled, took his face in both her hands and came even closer. Then Colquhoun, moving in and out of consciousness, beyond exhaustion, turned on his side and slumped into a deep and dream-filled dark.
Colquhoun Raises His Sails
Beneath the diamond bright night, Colquhoun slept and dreamed of Elizabeth. Sometimes, her image was filled with starlight. Other times, she glowed with flame-like intensity. Then, like a single bird alighting on his mast, hope descended on the sleeping Colquhoun. He woke to a clear day with his boat moving through gentle swells under minimum sail. Gulls were swooping low, diving into the water, squabbling and squawking over a school of fish. Then Colquhoun knew that land was near. He checked his charts and raised more sail. His boat surged and the bow knifed the swells. He gripped fast on the rudder and his spirit rose. He felt, in some deep, primal place, that on the coming island his quest would finally end. There, he would find Miriam.
©2022 Neil Creighton
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