Being born at all amounts to peering out from a cliff
Over the sea. The great jellyfish who spread their arms
Out on the sea tell us how deep our ignorance is.
The acts we take are ink soaking through a page.
Men and women we cannot see have written on the page
Just before us. It was death who folded over the page.
Why do we imagine that we are responsible for all
The pain of those near to us? The albatross that lands
On the mast began flying a thousand years ago.
We are floating in an open boat near the Bermudas
Watching drops of sea water fall off the oars.
Soon Melville’s ship will come by singing.
All those times we’ve been born, and died, including
Those times when we were never born at all,
Require Andromeda to sit upright in her chair.
Robert, you’ve become a watcher of the night sky—
You sit up half the night looking at Orion. Be glad
That so many jellyfish spread their arms on the sea.