Complex Beauty

The ocean inclined an ear as the swells decreased,
And the waves ceased their assaults against the hull;
The birds rested on the easy rolls and cocked their heads
In the direction of a song rising with the wind.

The lyrics mournful, but with a tune that did not match–
Nor the voice–for the song was carried by tones not cheerful,
But marked by contentedness–an acceptance of life’s gifts:
Understanding the helpful often comes only with the harmful.

But acceptance alone is incomplete contentedness,
For it lacks thankfulness–and this is what marked the song
Played by a man with a guitar sitting on the back of a ship
Sailing slowly, circularly through the northern Pacific.

No particular thoughts crossed the mind of the man adrift,
Only that life seemed fair–or more than fair, he’d sing–
In its treatment of him, despite his many attempts
To scuttle himself with sins and sink to the bottom.

Real contentedness brings with it that same calm joyfulness
Unhidden in his musical strains, along with sadder words–
Not contrasting, but complementing each others’ timbres–
Giving the song’s sorrow and joy a complex beauty.