To Catch an Albatross

Southern Royal Albatross in Flight, East of Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia, Picture by J.J. Harrison shared by Creative Commons 3.0

The albatross would dance in the air above
Riding the currents of the divine breath
Calling to us here aboard the ship
Urging us forward as we rode the wind
Charting our path before us as we sailed
Floating gracefully and effortlessly
As we struggled to trim the sails
to capture the atmospheric inspiration
Perhaps if I could befriend this avian guide
If I could somehow coax him to join me on deck
The spirit of the air descending on the son of man
I could befriend this emissary of the heavens
And this airborne ambassador might intercede
For these sailors and their captain upon the sea
Who struggle with wood and cloth and rope
To capture the atmospheric inspiration
I devised my plan to catch the great albatross
With fishes, I beckon him to circle lower each day
Slowly coaxing him down from the clouds above
Until the day when I might break bread with him
Sharing communion with him upon the deck
As we pass through the waters to the promised land
Fellow sailors, one of air and one of the sea
Passengers being borne by captured inspiration
My mind conceived the plan that never was executed
Thanks to the vision that visited me that night
For my heavy eyes became a screen where an angel showed
A future with the albatross captured by the heart of man
For they are spirits of air and we have hearts of dust
The winds would not give their blessing to my plan
Nor the seas consent to the spirit of air to be captured
By the creature of soil who longs for the air’s inspiration
For in my mind I wanted my friend to stay near me
And so, a snare was set to keep him from fleeing too far
Some measure of freedom I would allow my new pet
But spirits of air are not meant to be restrained in their flight
And heartbroken the bird soon began to look sickly
It refused to eat, it broke our communion in its fast
And soon in my dreams it lay motionless upon the deck
In captivity breathing out its final expiration
The skies and seas mourned the passing of this noble creature
This prince of the air which had graced us with its presence
And the ship came to a halt as we entered into the doldrums
No current and no wind to fill the sails and move us along our exodus
Water, salty water, everywhere, but not one drop to drink
As the sun beats upon these mariners growing ancient
Waiting for the days to pass upon the still and silent sea
Wishing for some inspiration from heaven to move us
In the nightmare, we dwelt for days unknown on those dead waters
Mere skeletons of the men we were prior to our journey’s genesis
Caught with our exodus slowly baking in this blue wilderness
With blackened lips and withered tongues the crew sought
The Jonah that had cursed their voyage and whose sacrifice
The seas thirsted for so that relief might come to those trapped
On this immobile wooden coffin which drifts aimlessly
Wanting some body to fill the uninspired wood and cloth
For I was the offending party, the one caught with the albatross
Now destined to be food for the fishes that circle this dead man
Instead of communing with the spirit of the air I am consumed
By the demons of the abyss that rise up to claim my body
Descending into the watery hell where I uttered my last cry
The albatross hung around my neck like a sinner’s crucifix
The spirit of the air and the man of soil offered to the sea
As my final cry expires into the watery tomb of the ocean
Water falls from the sky and the haunting cry of the albatross
Awakens the sleeper like Lazarus called forth from the tomb
And the salty air enters into my lungs as I wipe tears from my eyes
For I am alive and the albatross flies free, sailing the wind
This angel of mercy which flies before my life coaxing us along
As a gentle rain falls upon the creaking deck of the ship
And I am refreshed in my journey through the waters
As I inspire both the salty air and the new life I was granted


2 thoughts on “To Catch an Albatross

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