I took the boys to Bainbridge Island last week for the Martin Luther King holiday. I considered going to the MLK march like we’ve done in years past but I felt like the boys needed, or at least I needed, a day away. A day out of the city, away from school and work and schedules; to wander under a scopious sky, throw rocks and eat ice cream.
We caught the 9:30 ferry and spent about half the day on the island’s eastern side at Fort Ward State Park before hitting the local ice cream shop. It wasn’t perfect. There was whining, of course, and more than one, When are we going ho-ooome? There may or may not have been some conspicuous pee-ing in public but overall, it was just what I had been pining for and it made me wish I had brought along some Wendell Berry or Patrick Kavanaugh to keep me company while the boys wandered the waterfront.
I kept thinking of Berry’s poem, The Wild Geese. It’s midwinter, not Summer’s end, and certainly we weren’t on horseback… but still it seemed to fit.
The Wild Geese
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.