A Song for Charon

city’s before me, folly of man
water’s beneath me, day’s just begun
ferry me over, into the day
carry me safely, under bright skies

steel looms before me, cold and aloof
city of cold souls, city of gloom
wait for me, ferry, don’t leave me here
wait for the sunset, heat of the fire

I have done good here, given souls ease
city of cold though, everyone dies
take me away, from city of dead
bring me to life, to peace I once had

city’s behind me, day fades to dark
through peaceful waters, ferry me back
color me fired up, color me glowed
set me down gently, set me down home


Notes: Ever since moving to Staten Island and taking the ferry to work each day, I have a real sense of leaving behind peace and comfort and joy – leaving behind life – while I spend the day at work. I love my job (teaching). But still, it feels like I’m being taken from the land of the living and being ferried into a land of death and gloom. And at the end of each day, I am so glad to board the ferry and go back to peace and comfort and joy – to home.

I wrote the last two lines of this poem after seeing the sunset below. Then I added an image I’ve been associating with my daily ferry ride a while, of Charon the ferryman helping souls cross the River Styx to Hades. I’ve read a few Young Adult novels where Charon is a wonderful, kind ferryman, and some where he’s vindictive and cruel. And of course, one of the main dilemmas of heroes who want to rescue souls from Hades is that the living cannot cross the river and that no one can make the return journey… 

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