Overlook sandyross

Archipelago

I have to know our conversations
Will lie between us like islands,
Remnants of once connected, tectonic plates,
Now divided, floating on currents
Of individual lives.

The swiftest and deepest forces
Demarcate our strengths,
The fastest waters challenge
Our shoreline navigation;
We can spy or visit
Where our days joined, our words
Charting isolated places
To become once more a common country.

I have to know our interactions
Will continue like an atoll string,
Retracing or inventing our direction
On sentences of sand or shoal;
I want to pose our questions,
Recognizable as signal flags on the horizon,
Ellipses of implication,
Crossing latitudes of understanding.

I need to see those islands,
At leisure or emergency,
Hear again your intonations
Like bird call in high leaves;
Revisit familiar landings,
Discover unapproachable bays—

Part of you in sea mist
Not wholly understood, the rest
Known points of orientation,
Place holders on the map
We interpolate between us.

I could not bear to think we’d not
Set out again for mutual island landfall,
Collect each other’s thoughts
Like botanic specimens
And hike the leeward hills
Of our affection.

by Maureen Buchanan Jones
Humanities Professor, 1993-2003

Photo: Sandy Ross ’05