Longlisted Poem 2012

Patrick Mulholland

St Columb’s College, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

The Lost Colony of Roanoke

I ventured beyond Her Majesty’s realm,
With only faint Hope to steer the helm
Across the ocean’s treacherous tract
To an arcane land of ancient elm
Upon the frontiers of fable and fact –
For we were intrepid pioneers, bound for mystery,
Surging forth to find our place in history.

To the tumultuous Tempest I had made a solemn vow,
To remain steadfast and resolute by the bow –
Against the chaos of crashing waves and curdling foam,
Which beckoned me to submit; but to quit, I knew not how!
For I knew wherever I roam celestial stars shall guide me home,
But then; Zephyr trickled past my ear and hush soon filled the ominous air,
A voice cautioned me – but was unclear; from a place I knew not where…

I remember vividly when we disembarked at Roanoke,
The summer air was already scented with the aroma of hewn oak,
So I instructed the pilgrims to leave a sign if they should flee;
But had I been too blind to see the truth in what the Voice once spoke?
And would I choke on my promises to thee on things I could not foresee…
Each nightfall, beyond the palisade of enchanted trees,
The savages’ rituals whispered through the breeze,
And by morn, with my love I watched the blazing dawn ignite,
Which could not help but please and set our restless hearts at ease,
But a murder in flight, casts no shadows at night,
And Gaia’s snowy shroud was laid delicately without a crease,
As the sparrow’s song subsided and divine days did cease.

In search of provisions, I left – both beaten and scourged,
Oh such a tragedy that of hope one could be purged!
For too short and simple were our farewell ave and waves,
As we – two scorned slaves, diverged as soon as we merged
To travel without staves, the separate paths that Fate paves,
Yet, without pretence, I had pledged to reunite many months hence,
And whispered solace as my journey was about to commence:

“My love, like the river meanders to the sea
Each step away only draws you closer to me,
Do not think of it as a wayward dream,
However hopeless it may seem, hear my plea:
One day we will sail together upon a calmer stream,
For despite being carried by tides entire worlds apart,
A piece of you resides forever in my heart.”

Sometime later;
I returned with provisions and her memory still endearing,
But in the distance I saw what we had been fearing;
The word “CROATOAN” etched upon a trunk!
Hurriedly – I scrambled through the empty clearing –
Restrained by my heart that had sunk,
And then hastily, I wiped away the thick moss,
Only to find the engraving of a cross…
© Patrick Mulholland

Project Details

  • Date January 14, 2015
  • Tags 2012 Voyages - Longlisted Poems