The Shadow


On the naked branch I was the sparrow
Dipping and swaying in the ice cold wind.
And at the kitchen window stood the shadow
Peering through the pane.
And what is life but sorrow?
There is no end to wind,
The hollow howl and bite,
And I must face the wind
To keep my feathers tight.
And now the freezing rain.

And then I was the brave, wave-battered boat
Beating to windward, dancing in the spray.
And on the shore the shadow, wrapped in coat
And scarf, with salt on lips.
And life is death afloat.
The great supporting sea,
My very element,
Tries to capsize me.
I head up to confront
The murderer of ships.

Today I am the de-faced, weather-worn
Colossus, split by tremor to the waist.
I have been known to sing and sigh at dawn,
They say to greet my mother.
So life calls out from stone.
The shadow dreams the taste
Of centuries like mine,
Glances to the east
Where he would see a sign.
No age is like another.

Tomorrow then what shall I be? What thing
Will catch the shadow’s eye? What momentary
Imagined correspondence will I bring
To tempt him to distraction?
I could be anything.
My form and substance vary,
Though constant to my theme,
Immortal, never weary,
The god of waking dream,
The monarch of inaction.

Frank Dux