Two poems, “Cargo” and “Should You Be Accosted on the Road to Mecca,” by alumni Ross White (poetry, ’08) appear online in storySouth:
Should You Be Accosted on the Road to Mecca
Should you be accosted on the road to paradise by thieves,
should you be waylaid on the road to Shangri-La by butchers,
should you be diverted on the road to Xanadu,
should the other pilgrims similarly delayed look upon you with such pity,
should the guardsmen spit and laugh,
should you feel a sudden pain in your sides or stitches,
should the willows bend in patterns to suggest a more intense weeping,
should the gold coins fall from your purse to the soft dirt,
should you find yourself wishing for a homeland that’s no longer there,
take solace that the road was not carved or paved but worn by feet,
take solace that the feet belonged to travelers clothed as you are,
take solace that the path trod time and again seldom leads to nowhere,
but that the travelers made a life, as you do, traveling.
For a time, I was a stowaway aboard a great ship,
hidden in great coils of rope.
A stormcloud followed.
I thought back to the maître d’ boning a fish
at the tableside,
and how you whispered to me
as though every word was contraband.
There must be secret plans
to smuggle all the love out of the world.
I was beaten by the captain when he found me,
though now I am a midshipman.
What care we take not to disturb the albatross.
What care I take to keep the sight of you
contraband in my heart all these years later.
What care we take to keep the sight of land
in our minds for days
after the horizons have swallowed the last of it.