A poem for my son

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I'm sitting in the airport in Salt Lake City, of all places, my flight to Idaho Falls delayed by two hours. I'm sitting in a bar called Finnigan's, and I can't help but wonder how many bars there are called Finnigan's.

On the flight here from San Francisco I read this poem by S.P. Somtow, in "Armorica", the 2nd book in the Riverrun Trilogy. I offer it to my son.

At the End of the Forest

And so, at last, I left the darkling wood.
I came to the cave where I had left my mother,
The hearth I loved, the bed in which I'd dreamed
Of these adventures.

I came upon my kinfolk
As they supped, telling old tales to warm their nights.
I said, "Mother, I have returned, with gifts
And stories, conquests, jewels, and a bride;
I have slain man and dragon; I have ravished
Maiden and crone; I have lived dangerously,
Stooped, beastlike to drink water from the stream,
And quaffed celestial manna from gold goblets."
My mother said, "My son, take out the trash."

"But, but," I said, "what of my lurid tales,
My battles and my witty conversations
With saucy knights, my exploits the bedroom?"
"Yes, yes, my dear, but first, go wash your hands,
Or you may not sit down to sup with company."

Only that night, when I lay down to sleep,
Did she consent to hear my tales of woe,
Of joy, of passion, courage, and survival;
And then she wept full sore, because the son
She loved had been through so much suffering.
Then she did kiss me gently on the cheek
And say, "The places you have been, the conflicts,
The fierce encounters, and the nights of passion,
These places all are marked upon a map;
The map is called The Human Journey.

Although, my son, you have traversed the world,
And conquered love and death, and grown from child
To man, there is another thing to learn:
Your journey is the journey all men make,
An exploration of the human soul;
And I am still your mother.

"Let me kiss you,
And tomorrow I will bake you a fresh loaf
Give you a new condom and clean clothes,
And you shall venture forth again.

"The journey
Is forever."

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July 2012

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