Who is the Other, Who Walks Beside you?

Who is the Other, Who Walks Beside you?

Inspired by South: The Endurance Expedition, a book written by Ernest Henry Shackleton, I began to write this poem, Who is the Other, Who Walks Beside You?

no failure, is it,
those lives, lived
which have put forth
to the rest of us
that which was tasked
to the brave hearts, 
who do, defy
and assume the test

look, elephant island,
that expedition, not willing
to release it’s guests
without a distilling

and endurance fell into
a darkness, 
where strength, unrepressed
the other to walk with them
a third spirit as such
they later confessed

a comfort with the trauma
such a juxtaposition
that factor of third
a profound coping fix

those mountains and seas
desert heat, arctic cold
alone is the test,
the hardest is yet
when triumph needs the other, a spirit to make bold

to feel, how, such a presence
guardian angels? we doubt
yet cast not such a stone, placebo or not
journeys and healing,
explore not without

as, no failure, when solo not.

Who is that, who walks beside you?

Shackleton asserts this phenomenon as a Providence of sorts. In the snow fields of South Georgia, in the Falkland Islands, he and two companions marched not as three, but as four. It is an ineffable, intangible intuitive sense that I feel viscerally just writing about it. In Shackleton’s words, one feels,

the dearth of human words
the roughness of mortal speech.
But a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject
very near to our hearts.

The Waste Land

T. S. Elliot and Shackleton are but two who give us an idea, inspiration and motivation to tough it out. The Waste Land was composed by Elliot as he recovered from a nervous breakdown, in an asylum in Geneva Switzerland.

With his life in fragments, Elliot as did the other explorer, sought to create something substantial — a something that could bolster him again the superficial world that lacked anything of genuine significance.

Water, in The Waste Land, symbolized this thirst for meaning.

If there were water….

And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water.

~ T. S. Elliot

In this desert, water

in this desert, water, is there
for the one who wants, who can push the pain

to endure the hot and the cold
to face the challenges of the unknown

to seek out the water, the other
this unnamed source, ultimately to be
found within

~ namasté, Leah J. 🕊

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