Ireland, 500 AD
He sings this: wicker boat
covered with skins, light among
rocks and out onto seafoam.
Swans overhead follow each other
north past the far edge of ocean.
They know they’ll find land there.
He used to trade without speaking.
Men offered oil, wine, amber.
He countered—hunting dogs,
wool, his beautiful slave. Now
he owns nothing. Who is he
since he buried his sword
and shield, his silver bowl
embossed with the story of Christ
and the story of Venus?
He takes bread for a journey, steps
into a rudderless, oarless boat.
He may come to an island
and live there, a hermit,
or end with the grandeur
of nothing, the last bit of bread.
He sings this: Water
my desert. My wicker boat.
Swans fly. I follow.