The Old Explorer

I have sat just once
  at the deathside bed of a old explorer
While Life yet lingered within him,
After I had chased away
  the swaddling nurses
    and their comfort pans
  Who sought only to ease his pain
    with their bandaged ministrations.
I sat and held his hand, while he
  simply held on
Then I told him of my day
  amid the rising path and trees
Where the sun would not reach until noon
And his stories of which it reminded me
And on this, he rose from the weary frame,
  with more life than we knew he still possessed
To admonish me, lovingly: “That? Hell, that was nothing.”
And there he cracked open yet another dusty jar
  of the world unknown to me,
    and the stories it had taught him
Of the path yet steeper, where no trees grew,
  and weather so hard the sun would not be seen
    until springtime.
Of how he stood there with his companions
  beaten, but victorious
    for simply having made it back
“Now – *that* was spectacular. You should see it some day.”
And I promised I would
  some day.
When I am broken,
And you find me at bedside
  with nothing left to cling to
Except my memories
Remember this man, and share with me your day
  on the windswept heights
That we may remember it together
  and that I
  when I go
May go with you

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