A Voyage of Heart and Mind

“High Wind for Jamaica” by Janet Seaman

The Heart and the Mind
Are powers entwined
In the vessel of the soul
Both at the oars
Aimed at far shores
To reach the self-same goal

Though, at the start,
They seek a clear mark
They oft’ waver from their course
For the sailors here
So quickly veer
When, their own way, they enforce

They insist, you see
To sit peculiarly
In opposite-facing fashion
And each with an oar
They try for the shore
In such incompatible action

For to row with one oar
Fixed to the ship board
Will cause it to turn to one side
So they paddle a bit
Grow weary, then quit
And hope to drift in with the tide

While the one facing shore
Starts to slumber and snore
His mate wakes to desolate sea
“We’ve drifted off course!”
Comes his panicked report
And rows to behold the shore’s trees

As you can tell
This does not bode well
For the ship to arrive where it yearns
It merely rotates
When a sailor awakes
And the bow trades its place with the stern

Yet once and a while
With their tempers riled
Both sailors are awake and intend
To contrive a way
To sail through the bay
Reaching land and long journey’s end

“I have it this time!”
So shouts the Mind
“Let me row from now on,
I know the maps
Of the safest pass
We’ll be there before long.”

“Nay let me
Our captain be!”
Quoth the Heart in passioned reply,
“I know and I feel
That the wind has revealed
The way to traverse beneath its sky.”

“Leave thy feelings behind!”
Retorts the Mind
Between heavy strokes of the oar,
“They shift and they change
And oft’ rearrange
To be not what they were before.”

“Your map lines are dead!”
The nettled Heart says
Who begins to heave and to row
“They know not of the wind
Or the storms we’ve been in
For they were drawn so long ago”

With more indignations
And self-justifications
The sailors continue to fight
And the oars they put in
Make their ship spin
An endless circle through day and night

Their battle will last
With no peace to pass
For both Heart and Mind are stubborn
Yet here between
To disrupt the scene
Comes at last a power to govern

The boat that spins
And the sailors within
Forsake all save their will and their pride
They see not the clouds
The enveloping shroud
Or the flashes that shatter the sky

The rain and the waves
Now lifts and staves
The blindness that hides our ships’ fate
The spinning is ceased
As the oars are released
But now it is much too late

For all around
A clamorous sound
As the storm unleashes its rage
And the sea beneath
Here earns its keep
As a force of untamable gauge

A torrent of blows
From above and below
Assail the humble vessel
Whose crumpling frame
Is not meant to sustain
The war between ocean and metal

Great waves burst forth
As an army of sorts
Like mountains in rapid succession
With increasing might
And likewise in height
Chaos in ordered procession

And then comes a crest
A wave at its best
That heaves the boat up to the sky
Then with a rush
And strong downward thrust
The wind hurls it back down in reply

When it finally lands
In the angry sea’s hands
They close in for damage and pain
For their final act
To undo the intact
Rips the vessel in twain

With destruction complete
The tempest retreats
As the night begins stealing away
The torrential downpour
Soon is no more
The last rain drops greeting the day

Now we find
Our Heart and our Mind
In the wake of their trial and woe
Battered and weathered
And no longer tethered
Giving thought of which way to go

“At last!” they now cry
“No more shall I try
To muddle my plans with thee!
Our boat is now split
I am free to commit
To myself and my own strategy!”

So the Heart grabs the oar
And looks for the shore
While the Mind does the same
They paddle and row
But nowhere do they go
In each place, their boat-halves remain

Each sailor assesses
Their respective messes
And frantically come to conclude
The Mind’s torn raft
Is sinking and fast
While on a sea-rock, the Heart is marooned

“I fear we shall die!”
Declares the Mind,
“I in this water and thou on thy perch”
Resounds the Heart,
“With our ship apart
Here shall we end along with our search”

“Had I any wind motion,
I’d sail through this ocean
Too swiftly for my boat to sink.”
The Mind thought aloud
Who was nearly half-drowned
Slowly submerging into the drink

“And if I had a map,
Of all these rock traps
I’d have the surest of navigation.”
The Heart did reply
Between sobs and cries,
“But here I find my expiration”

A thing happens here
Amid madness and fear
That is not quickly explained
The waves and the wind
Once more enter in
But now for a gentl’r campaign

The water and air
Find the Heart there
And wash him down from the mound
They reach for the Mind
From under the brine
And to the surface again he is found

The two sailors float
Toward the other’s half-boat
And, in truth, know not what to say
They think and they feel
On things suddenly real
And marvel how they came to this day

Sudden joyful tears
Dispel all their fears
With an embrace, they agree as friends
That the Master of these,
Sky, storm, and sea
Undertook their severance to mend

“Put your arm in mine,”
The Heart says to the Mind
“Hold fast, that our ship cleft be sealed”
With these instructions done
The ship halves acts as one
And a second purpose is revealed

“Aye!” the Mind claims
“We have fixed our aim,
For now we sit with the same orientation!
Take the oar in your grasp
And whether slowly or fast
Let us makes strokes in synchronization”

The sailors then find
With like-heart and like-mind
Their going is buoyant and straight
Yet one more question
A lingering perplexion
Is all that remains for debate

“Where is the shore?
It was there before!”
They ask aloud and in sync
For the storm had tossed
And carried them off
Much farther than one would think

The Mind looks down
Then all around
And spying the searock, gives it some starings
“I know this feature,
The map was my teacher.
From this I can surmise our bearings”

The Heart, for a while
With a tranquil smile
Listens, then slowly delivers,
“I feel this air
Salt-laden and fair
Whose winds are true guidance-givers”

Thus, a new start
For the Mind and the Heart
A pairing of wondrous strength
One hand to row
The other to know
A friend of lifelong length

Like a brother and sister
Although they may differ
Their bond is a symbiotic one
Whether storms or calm seas
Map lines or wind breeze
The life of one to the other is done

Both at the oars
Aimed at far shores
To reach the self-same goal
The Heart and the Mind
Are powers entwined
In the vessel of the soul

*Many thanks to my wonderful wife for editorial assistance

4 thoughts on “A Voyage of Heart and Mind

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