The Rowing Endeth

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“The Rowing Endeth”
Original Mixed Media, 20 x 24
$1300

My stepdad, who is no longer with us, was an Episcopalian Priest, psychotherapist, Greek and Hebrew scholar, voracious reader, and an overall enigma, in the best sense of the word. He could convey a sentence that was poignant and joyful at the same time. He met and marched with Martin Luther King Jr., had lunch with Henri Nouwen , and worked with Martin Bell (author of The Way of the Wolf). 

This poem from Anne Sexton was one he would often share in his sermons. Anne wrote this shortly before she committed suicide in 1974. Her life was filled many dark moments, to say the least; yet I think my stepdad saw something quite beautiful in her brokenness and wanted to share that glimpse with the broken world before him. May we all be such ambassadors.

“The Rowing Endeth,” by Anne Sexton 

I’m mooring my rowboat
at the dock of the island called God.
This dock is made in the shape of a fish
and there are many boats moored
at many different docks.
“It’s okay,” I say to myself,
with blisters that broke and healed
and broke and healed–
saving themselves over and over.
And salt sticking to my face and arms like
a glue-skin pocked with grains of tapioca.
I empty myself from my wooden boat
and onto the flesh of The Island.

“On with it!” he says and thus
we squat on the rocks by the sea
and play–can it be true–
a game of poker.
He calls me.
I win because I hold a royal straight flush.
He wins because He holds five aces.
A wild card had been announced
but I had not heard it
being in such a state of awe
when He took out the cards and dealt.
As he plunks down His five aces
and I sit grinning at my royal flush,
He starts to laugh,
the laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth
and into mine,
and such laughter that He doubles right over me
laughing a Rejoice-Chorus at our two triumphs.
Then I laugh, the fishy dock laughs
the sea laughs. The Island laughs.
The Absurd laughs.

Dearest dealer,
I with my royal straight flush,
love you so for your wild card,
that untamable, eternal, gut-driven ha-ha
and lucky love.