Letter to Mother
It was good. You found your America. It was worth all
The coming: the fading figures in the never-again doorway,
The rankness of steerage, the landing in fog.
Yes, and the tenement, the reek and shouting in the streets
All that night and the terror. It was good, it was all good.
It is important only that you came.
And it is good to remember that this blood, in another body,
your body, arrived.
There is dynastic example in a single generation of this blood,
and the example good,
But, Mother, I can promise you nothing.
This traveling is across the sprung longitudes of the mind
And the blood’s latitudes. I have made a sextant of heart
And nailed my bearings to sun, but from the look-out
There is no hailing yet of the hoped-for land.
On the enormous, wheeling, imperative sea,
And the high example of this earlier coming—
But there will be no Americas discovered by analogy.
From The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997), edited by Edward M. Cifelli. Copyright © 1997 by the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust. Used with the permission of the publisher.