Fellow Traveler

by Shawn Allen

I met an man along the road, a fellow traveler.
I had not spoken in so long
and he helped me find my words.
I had heard no kind word in so long,
and he sang to me until I heard
the world and the stars.
When I lost my way, he let me wander
then, with a smile, he welcomed me back.
He would not pull me up the mountain,
yet he would push me down the road.
He walked with me, sometimes far ahead,
sometimes by my side, as companions.

When I fell sick with fevers and fear
he helped me shed my skin.
He nailed that dead thing to a tree
and went away, leaving me naked
and alone in a desert that bore my name.
For many nights, I staggered through that place
far beyond the furthest city of men
beyond thoughts of survival, and beset by visions.
When my eyes again cleared, he was there
as if he had never been away, and I wept.
In that crossroad, he held me like a child,
and both of us at that moment, prodigal sons.

Now the journey is no burden borne –
no longer longing for anything left behind,
nor fear-blind for the world as yet to come.
Along the starlight paths, or through the primal wood,
along the marked roads, and through the unknown,
beyond map’d continents and seas, beyond horizon’s line,
seeing no one for miles, then joining the throng:
all walking and running and flying with faces raised
to heavens being born and re-birthed,
opening in infinite welcome to the fellow travelers
sometimes together and sometimes apart,
but ever and all connected by singular bourn.

for Jacob Nordby