Posted by: John Looker | 26 July, 2009

MARCO POLO ON THE SILK ROAD

(For Gemma)

MARCO POLO ON THE SILK ROAD

The palaces, the churches blessed with gold,
are gone; the sea lapping their Venice home,
forgotten; olive trees already old

along Aegean shores, Byzantine domes,
the fishing craft, even the Holy Land
where Christendom expires, have also flown;

and here, on infinite plains, the little band
treks on; at times they pause in grubby towns
to rest, to barter with an underhand

obsequious trader, watched they fear by crowds
of turbaned faces there to see fair play,
by local lights; but when the smells and sounds

begin to seem familiar, then one day
they pack, re-shoe a horse and load each mule,
and in the early morning find their way

out through the straggling dwellings where the rule
of law dissolves and brigands fill each hollow,
up to the high wide terrain where the cruel

winds find them at once; from here they will follow
the few directions, the uncertain signs,
they have to guide their steps. There’s neither sorrow

nor joy that could deter them now or change their minds:
this is the manner of living to which the soul inclines.

© John Looker 2009

paths in a landscape

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Responses

  1. Yay!! I absolutely LOVE this poem! It’s strangely comforting, especially the concept of ‘re-shoeing a horse’! The ending is beautiful too: ‘this is the manner of living to which the soul inclines.’

    Like


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