As a child I used to dream about a wizard knocking on my door to take me on a magical adventure. As I’ve gotten older, one of the concepts that has stayed with me from Tolkien’s books is the way he talks of the road as not just a means to a destination but as a fluid entity, so that the road becomes whatever you wish to shape it into; as in this quote from ‘The fellowship of the ring’ in which Frodo speaks of Bilbo:
He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. (p. 107)
This poem is about making the mental shift from dreams to reality, and from inaction to adventure.
The road slinks past me like a snake
glittering bright in the sun and dangerous—
it’s many shining eyes beckon,
hint of unseen worlds, treasures,
it might lead to heaven or hell,
or a land made of fairy floss and caramel
wherever it ends up, all I know for sure
is it damn well won’t be here—
but no wizard is going to knock on my door.
And although I never took up with Kerouac
my nights are filled with journeys
that have no start and know no end
just the constant rolling rhythm
of the earth beneath my feet,
and the sun sinking into the horizon
beckoning me to follow—
until I wake to my pillow
and the throbbing disappointment
of another day of waiting—
but no dreams are going to find me.
It’s too easy to stay, too hard to go—
I hide behind the window and stare:
at people who amble past
talking like they haven’t a care in the world,
cars purr as they prowl the streets
trucks thunder across the tracks
and the windows quiver like naughty children—
the vibrations scare me into my shell,
I try to swallow myself whole.
One day I’ll slough away this old skin
and then my feet will turn to scales
and I’ll slither away in search of the sun.