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A Distance From The Sea

Written by: Weldon Kees | Biography
 To Ernest Brace

"And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was
about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto
me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and
write them not.
" --REVELATIONS, x, 4.
That raft we rigged up, under the water, Was just the item: when he walked, With his robes blowing, dark against the sky, It was as though the unsubstantial waves held up His slender and inviolate feet.
The gulls flew over, Dropping, crying alone; thin ragged lengths of cloud Drifted in bars across the sun.
There on the shore The crowd's response was instantaneous.
He Handled it well, I thought--the gait, the tilt of the head, just right.
Long streaks of light were blinding on the waves.
And then we knew our work well worth the time: The days of sawing, fitting, all those nails, The tiresome rehearsals, considerations of execution.
But if you want a miracle, you have to work for it, Lay your plans carefully and keep one jump Ahead of the crowd.
To report a miracle Is a pleasure unalloyed; but staging one requires Tact, imagination, a special knack for the job Not everyone possesses.
A miracle, in fact, means work.
--And now there are those who have come saying That miracles were not what we were after.
But what else Is there? What other hope does life hold out But the miraculous, the skilled and patient Execution, the teamwork, all the pain and worry every miracle involves? Visionaries tossing in their beds, haunted and racked By questions of Messiahship and eschatology, Are like the mist rising at nightfall, and come, Perhaps to even less.
Grave supernaturalists, devoted worshippers Experience the ecstasy (such as it is), but not Our ecstasy.
It was our making.
Yet sometimes When the torrent of that time Comes pouring back, I wonder at our courage And our enterprise.
It was as though the world Had been one darkening, abandoned hall Where rows of unlit candles stood; and we Not out of love, so much, or hope, or even worship, but Out of the fear of death, came with our lights And watched the candles, one by one, take fire, flames Against the long night of our fear.
We thought That we could never die.
Now I am less convinced.
--The traveller on the plain makes out the mountains At a distance; then he loses sight.
His way Winds through the valleys; then, at a sudden turning of a path, The peaks stand nakedly before him: they are something else Than what he saw below.
I think now of the raft (For me, somehow, the summit of the whole experience) And all the expectations of that day, but also of the cave We stocked with bread, the secret meetings In the hills, the fake assassins hired for the last pursuit, The careful staging of the cures, the bribed officials, The angels' garments, tailored faultlessly, The medicines administered behind the stone, That ultimate cloud, so perfect, and so opportune.
Who managed all that blood I never knew.
The days get longer.
It was a long time ago.
And I have come to that point in the turning of the path Where peaks are infinite--horn-shaped and scaly, choked with thorns.
But even here, I know our work was worth the cost.
What we have brought to pass, no one can take away.
Life offers up no miracles, unfortunately, and needs assistance.
Nothing will be the same as once it was, I tell myself.
--It's dark here on the peak, and keeps on getting darker.
It seems I am experiencing a kind of ecstasy.
Was it sunlight on the waves that day? The night comes down.
And now the water seems remote, unreal, and perhaps it is.



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