We have birthed a new language here.
And dearly paid is it in learning.
We say, “Yes, sir.”
We say, “Yes, ma’am.”
We use terms like “cabin inspection.”
We say, “Not tonight. I’m still completely wrecked
From last time.”
We say, “My roommate will just go to the
P.O. and just sit in the dark.
He’s good like that.”
We have here learned a new language–
A new tongue, used in new ways,
Contorted and dazed by the process
Of burning time strangely.
Here, time is burned along with fuel
And the smoke of it is broken hearts,
Hearts cast restlessly to the crush
Of unkind waves.
We are each of us a burning
Who chose to go lost to the sea.
Inside a language lives a world
And we have forged of these terms
The walls of world are cabin wide and yet
We glide the breadth of oceans.
The edges of our world are carved in
A picture, a sound,
The sound of awkward lovemaking
One bunk above–
the picture of a love never lost,
Never orphaned, never apportioned
Her proper lot of homelessness
And so foreign to the waters.
Imaginary matter fills up our veins,
Pushing aside the blood
Streaming through hearts and minds
Seeping through the halls that serve
Each deck as arteries;
And part of me wants to scream
To the part of you that knows this
Entire paper-mache prison is false,
Is made of dreamed-up brick,
Is stacks of sea foam waiting to trick
A wandering heart, but that’s not
Being undone we undo the stitches
Of our cell so well knitted of people,
Their words and ways of being,
One person to another.
So if you and I together chose
To go lost to the sea and each
Time we meet you become a wall
Tall with indifference,
Then we are building prisons
Fortified by apathy, by exhaustion,
By fear; so, hear me now.
I am not a shade of caramel.
Neither am I blushing cream.
I am not chocolate brown.
I am not a language, not a culture,
Not a background, not an occupation
Or station in life.
I am nothing that can be siphoned
Off of a casual glance at a resume.
I am one, gone out over
The face of the waters, trembling
At the thought of a vanished home
And ten trillion acres of ocean left
Our language falters
And fails against the test.
But what I must say isn’t done,
And simply put is simply best–
Complications empty fun;
Here we’ll let it rest.
You are not alone.
Because I am as you are.
And you me.
Each to the other is one.
So can it be for those
Who chose to go lost
To the sea.
Mitchell Atkinson is a writer, musician, and social researcher from Flint, Michigan, who currently lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. His interests include truth, identity, empathy, prediction, freedom, social influence, voice, memory, sociology of the body, philosophies of language and mind, and others. He believes that words are not alive, but that they help people to live.