Explain to me how the sea
puts parentheses around the years
since my father held my waist.
We jumped the waves,
and he sang off key to me.
So much time has stacked up
but I walk along at low tide,
the water here dotted with bits of red seaweed,
feel only the water and the sand,
walk over shells of small crabs, or parts of their legs,
till the water laps up again and I see only
foam at the water’s edges.
Show me why the sea is so like
old words on the page,
why I can read and reread a poem
its meaning constant
text embedded deep in my neurons
though life whirls me
from single to married
childless to primagravida
to mother of two
to mother of two grown, off in the world.
Originally published in Poetry Pacific literary magazine
Near Uncle Tim’s bridge stands
a dwarf tree with twisted branches, tiny
White blossoms just about to fall—
White sand, shells of horseshoe crabs, not as many
As in years past. Matted salt hay, soft underfoot.
Across the marsh, the old fish cannery-turned-
Yoga studio next to the fish shack, the parking lot empty,
Freshly paved with crushed oyster shells,
White, pristine, waiting for the summer people.
In winter they stay in their houses, reading the paper.
Some sit at the piano, pluck out a few tunes.
Others write letters to the editor, refusing to use
email, preferring paper, envelope, self-adhesive stamps.
They walk their letters to the mailbox,
Wait for the metal clank as their missives disappear
Into the blue container. Pickup, 4 PM.
The summer people in winter wear
Their good coats to the opera. They don
Their special sports gear for the hockey arena.
They go to work early, they’re the last to leave the office.
They stand for O Say Can You See and O Canada.
They lug their groceries in reusable bags. They
Watch the calendar, dreaming of the marsh,
The kettle ponds’ clear water, the warm waves
Late August afternoons, on the bay beach,
White sand near the rock jetty, a fat orange sun
Slow dancing towards the horizon.
Originally published as a Poem of the Moment, on the Mass. Poetry website, December 2017, http://www.masspoetry.org/poemofthemoment7/