Month: January 2017

Walk Along the Sea

Lo, one there is who walks along the sea,

Alone, and deep in silence, on the line

Where wet sand shimmers, glass-like, endlessly.


Clear sand-stretch and pure air scented with brine

Afford him quiet as he bends his ear

To catch in whisp’ring wind a word or sign.


Beyond the sand a city, tier on tier,

Spreads its great teeming panoply before

The one who walks and looks and strains to hear.


For he must enter it, depart the shore,

And live therein for months and years to come

Until he hears the sloshing of the oar


Sweeter than flute or harp, upon the foam,

The ship that will come for him and will bear

Him over all the ocean to his home.


But he can’t enter before finding where,

Where is the street to his right lodging-place.

He seeks one fit for him, to sojourn there.


Knowing not where to go, he sets his face

To look for signs as he walks firmly on,

And doubting not the whisp’ring wind of grace.


At times he looks out to the horizon

Beyond the sea, toward home, in sun-glow bright,

And in soft voice sends out this orison:


“How I yearn for my cherished homeland’s light,

My Dear, my Guide and Guardian, well you know;

But I would not depart ere time is right,


“Ere I complete the work that time will show,

Duties that wait within the city’s wall,

That You’ll give me, until ’tis time to go.


“See how I strain to hear Your whisper’s call,

The wind of grace that shows the surest way

And place and part to walking wanderers all.


“Until I find a place where I may stay,

A restless sadness often grips my feet,

And whispers that I do but vainly stray;


“But Your love, unthinkably strong and sweet,

Is my firm shield against that poisoned word.

Despite my grieving heart, my steps run fleet,


“And I, with boldness like some soaring bird,

Run on after Your voice, which makes me free–

You’ll lead me surely by Your whispers heard.


“So now, content to know that You’re with me,

In quiet trust I’ll walk along the sea.”

Eyes of the Night Sky

A besieging force of darkness crouched silently around the town, held at bay by the hot, quavering glare of street-lamps and lights in windows. Madyl felt the contrast vividly as she walked out onto the next street, for this one marked the edge of Byrnera’s stronghold of firelight, the street beside the docks and the sea. She paused a moment, staring out into the unbroken blackness of the sea and overcast night sky, listening to the tireless rush and crash of the unseen waves. The endless abyss of shadow made her a little nervous, but also heightened her sense of adventure, out on the road alone. Then she turned resolutely away and resumed walking, scanning the buildings along the road, reviewing the directions her fellow workers had given her.

“The fisherman Tacas keeps a window open till late in the night,” the eldest of the women had explained. “His wife makes the most wonderful fish soup, to sell to busy folk like us who need a quick supper.” Now, indeed, as Madyl spotted the house that accorded with her directions—“seventh from the corner after you come to the sea”—she saw a large window spilling cheery golden light out onto the road.

Madyl smiled, feeling very accomplished to have made her way here on her own, and in a strange town at that. This would impress the older women, who had been afraid to let a child of eleven go out alone for their supper. She approached the window and peered inside at a plain but clean kitchen, lit by a lamp on the ceiling. A round wooden table and some chairs took up the greater part of the space. Was anyone in here? Then, in a corner, she noticed someone scrubbing a pot—but it wasn’t the fisherman’s or anyone’s wife. It was a boy, perhaps a few years older than she.

“Hello?” Madyl called. “Can I buy fish soup here?”

The boy’s head jerked up as he dropped the pot with a crash. “Oh! Yes, certainly. Wasn’t expecting any more customers by this hour.” Taking a thoughtful look at Madyl, he added, “Wow, what are you doing out so late?”

“I’m a laborer for Madam Loruis, the dyer,” Madyl explained. “Some of us had to work late tonight.” She laid some coins on the windowsill and held up the steel canister that was to carry back the soup.

The boy nodded, took the money and the canister, and went over to the stove, where a large black pot still sat. “So, you haven’t been in Byrnera long, have you?” he queried, as he ladled steaming soup from the pot into the canister. “Just guessing from your accent—you’re from Sylhoa, or somewhere in the hill country, right?”

Madyl nodded. “My family are farmers. Times aren’t easy. They sent me to work here to make some more money for us.”

“Working and on your own in town. And at your age, too.” The boy sounded impressed. Then he looked intently at her and frowned concernedly. “You’re not happy, are you?”

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