Your poem sounded different, a different feel to the one I gave it, when I read for the first time. And I love that. It’s made it different for me and thats interesting…. When I read it, I heard it with a colloquial tone and full of sorrow. Sadness. I hadn’t figured in any kind of angst. It surprised me (in a good way) and made me look at what you had written again.
I love that. When I wrote it, I was thinking a lot about fathers and sons, and that complicated relationship. I’m a dad now, to an 8 year old daughter and 5 year old son. It’s changed me, remarkably, and given me a new prism to gaze into the father-thing with. At the same time, I’ve been reading a new translation of The Aeneid, by Rober Fagles. His work is wonderfully approachable (he’s done the Iliad and Odyssey, as well) – highly recommended. Aeneid meeting his father Anchises in the afterlife, in Book VI, is such an important part of literature (Frazer uses the Golden Bough as his title for a reason). The book, along with some other readings I’ve been doing, have kept me up nights lately.
Around my own father, the sadness is still there when I step into the river, but it’s flowing more like silt. The water has turned to this sort of existential angst, more Sartre than Kierkegaard (I don’t see myself ever driven into religion by it), and a realization of the finite. I think that’s why much of the poem – including the title – references the Aeneid. Aeneas’s visiting his father in the underworld is, to me, the pivot of the entire work. It’s where he realizes he has to forge on, alone, that his ships upon Etruscan waves will never be steered by his father. That it is upon his shoulders. Captain of his own fate (yes, another work I think is influenced by Virgil). That he will never see him again, at least not in the life they once lived together.
Fascinating – wonderful what a careful, considerate reader can make clear to you.