Fractured Hero’s Journey


We went on a 12-sparrow walk

so I could teach my soul to speak.
    (Jim Harrison said this
          is the language of poetry.)

(Few things scare me as much as the word “soul.”)

We climb No-Name Trail until the coastal ridge
    in some silence,
          to give our hearts their full retinue

and because we have run out of things to say.

I do not look back like my favorites
    from ancient tales. We climb
          down before we climb up –

whether you prefer to begin with hill or speed

says as much about you as the test
    that showed I perceived and judged
          in equal measure.

Measured, measured     and found wanting.

No balladeer will record these sagas, lined
    in artichoke thistle
          and prickly pear cactus a little poison oak

and we don’t lie

to the tourists who ask, almost there?
    They may be confused angels.
          We point them toward horizon

which shares nearly everything with orison,

an ancient word for prayer
    I find hard to
             (and therefore do not) pronounce.

Patty Seyburn has published five collections of poems, most recently Threshold Delivery. She is a professor at California State University, Long Beach.

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