To Ireland, To Bethlehem

By Connie Voisine Connie Voisine
The plane is packed and over sweaty heads,
                         rumpled hair, the movie glows in the transatlantic nighttime
            murmur of priests and nuns and Riverdancers returning
 
home—a baby is cooed by an older mother, a boy feels
                          for his seat in the dark. I’ve read my books
            already, 2 days traveling, the difficulties
 
technical. I hate that money, says the priest beside me,
                           and he orders another scotch, his third.
            The Feast of the Epiphany tomorrow, he studies religious 
 
journals for a message, writes in a notebook
                            impossibly small. We are having problems
            with sound, the flight attendant announces,
 
it is not your headset, and so the oceans swell in silence,
                            bright blue tumbles across the screen mutely, foam
            collapsing over a tiny nimble figure
 
but she darts through to a green glow,
                            sunshine through a veil of wave, her surfboard tense between
            her feet and the world’s largest ocean. Her ride
 
is long, impossibly long—her hips stay low, a friend
                              drops onto her wave and, together, they glide towards the shore.
             No music. Just water and that blue. I check the SkyMall catalogue
 
for something I might need and didn’t know. There are
                              reasons I am flying over the ocean, reasons I
              I wish I were sure of. Someday I might say, yes, I chose
 
him, and it wasn’t wise. Or maybe we’ll be old and
                          surrounded by our own. The screen flashes;
              the surf is wild, but the bright sky makes me whisper,
 
Hawaii, where nothing could be that beautiful
                          but is. The waves are bigger and she sets out, flowered
               bikini, hair pulled back in a serious bun.
 
But too soon she’s underwater, arms above her head,
                           spinning down into a champagne sea.
              The priest asks would I like some English chocolate. I say no
 
at first then say yes. I say,
                             how many Euros for the scotch? The baby Jesus
               is about to be adored by black men, foreign kings, in
 
fact, tomorrow. They’re stumbling, the Magi,
                         12 days across an ocean and through the desert.
                It’s hot so they must travel at night—
 
who wouldn’t? And there was that star, sudden and perhaps a sign.
                          We’ve already tried to get there once,
                I want to say to the kings. It’s cool in this 747,
 
which later the pilot will land with only one engine.
                          A problem with
                compressors. But what a sweet,
 
sweet ocean, and those few younger girls
                         who try to ride it. And what a night,
                warmed by the sun-shocked smell
 
of saddle and sweat, the strong breath of camels.
                          What carved, fragrant trunkfuls
                born across deserts and ready to be opened before an infant god.

Connie Voisine, "To Ireland, To Bethlehem" from Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream. Copyright © 2008 by Connie Voisine.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream (The University of Chicago Press, 2008)

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Poet Connie Voisine

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Life Choices, The Mind, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Religion, Christianity

 Connie  Voisine

Biography

Poet Connie Voisine grew up in Maine and earned a BA in American studies from Yale University. She lived in New York City, studying writing at the New School and the Writers Studio, before earning her MFA from the University of California, Irvine, and PhD from the University of Utah. Her first collection, Cathedral of the North (2001), won the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award Series in Poetry, and her second, Rare . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, The Mind, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Religion, Christianity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

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