Everyone has a piece of writing that just speaks to them: poetry, music, a book (maybe Rolf’s book). Some people remember exactly where they were when they read Atlas Shrugged, for example, and others, when they first heard a tinkling piano introduction. Words aren’t just meaningful for themselves; they also bring back who you were when you met them for the first time. not just “where you were” in physical space, but where you were, in yourself, in your thoughts.
For me, Tony Hoagland is a crapshoot. I love some of his poetry fiendishly. Others, I find too crotchety, too cavalier, or too Pittsburghian. But this excerpt, from “Reading Moby Dick at 30,000 Feet“, so perfectly encapsulates some of the way I feel about traveling, I wanted to share it with you.
Imagine being born and growing up,
rushing through the world for sixty years
at unimaginable speeds.
Imagine a century like a room so large,
a corridor so long
you could travel for a lifetime
and never find the door,
until you had forgotten
that such a thing as doors exist.
Better to be on board the Pequod,
with a mad one-legged captain
living for revenge.
Better to feel the salt wind
spitting in your face,
to hold your sharpened weapon high,
to see the glisten
of the beast beneath the waves.
What a relief it would be
to hear someone in the crew
cry out like a gull,
Oh Captain, Captain!
Where are we going now?