Steering Song by Kevin McGrath–In Memoriam April 19th, 2013

Steering Song

by Kevin McGrath

LIKE a boat within another hull
In which we oblivious rest,
Unaware of our voyage or
Destination of the bound vessel.

A lioness walks the deck unseen
And the captain is a captive,
On the mast a vine springs
Between untruth and truth we sail.

Concealed by the rain we are
Listening to the sirens,
Enduring death in the darkness
Sweetness of still dense fog.

The ship hurtles softly through
Unknown seas and voiceless space,
A sound of grieving comes across
The flat calm of morning water:

Cremation fires upon a beach
Where cargo craft pass offshore,
Ashes packed in jars and buried
Spears clashed in speechless sorrow:

Axle chains scream with effort
As mourners compete to gain,
In perfection our end commences
Life hidden within another world.

An eagle takes a salmon from
Cold northern waves as
The fleet returns from distant banks
Holds full of writhing creatures.

Fruit is heavy now and falling
Goslings test their new flight,
Humming-birds vanish southward
As boats depart from port for ever,
From untruth to truth we sink.


April the Nineteenth TWO THOUSAND & THIRTEEN


Kevin McGrath was born in southern China in 1951 and was educated in England and Scotland; he has lived and worked in France, Greece, and India. Presently he is an associate of the Department of South Asian Studies and poet in residence at Lowell House, Harvard University. Publications include, Fame (1995), Lioness (1998), Maleas (2002), The Sanskrit Hero (2004), Flyer (2005), Comedia (2008), Stri (2009), Jaya (2011), Supernature (2012), Heroic Krsna and Eroica (2013), and Raja Yudhisthira (forthcoming, 2014). McGrath lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his family.