Archives for May 2012


Lost, You Said

I never guessed
although I should have
that you’d give up first
Like the knee
injured years ago
always folds on a hike
before my lungs cry off
I knew it was there
that not-quite-healed
fracture in you
though you never shared
how it happened
and I just kept my head down
driving ahead
as if to prove
I felt no pain
not even noticing
you had stopped
until you were out of sight
Lost, you said, until she rescued you



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Changing Tides

It was constant. The susurrus of the ocean outside my door had been the background noise of my entire life. As a child, it had rocked me to sleep more effectively than my mother’s arms and when I grew older I wandered its shifting border restlessly, breathing deeply of its brine and looking for a way to breach its tireless eternal face. Staring out across that constantly breaking plane, it seemed there was an infinite horizon in front of me and only weathered walls and the slow salt-driven erosion of every stable surface I’d ever known behind me.

When my mother was gone and I’d replaced her life with my own in that house, sometimes I screamed for it to stop, my voice pushing against the tides with as much effect as a rock thrown into the waves. It would only come back to me; always coming back to me with the roll of the waves. I tried to leave once but before I could move past the sound of its voice it drew me back with a gently tugging arm. It was the next week that I decided. That’s fine, I thought, if it won’t let me go then it can have me. I put the pan down on the stove and walked out the door – leaving it standing open – and walked into the muscled embrace of the water. I woke an unknown measure of time later, skin crusted and drying from the salt and somehow changed in ways I didn’t understand but still a solitary figure on the edge of that vast margin. It didn’t want me but it wouldn’t let me go. I could sense its empty heart behind the call of its voice but I wasn’t what it wanted to fill that void.

It gave me gifts like a lover who sensed me pulling away and was trying to win back my affection. Polished bits of glass to carry in my pocket as reminders. Shells whose nacreous beauty was present only in their emptiness. Strange creatures whose washed up forms spoke of the depths of a world I would never see, as if it was saying “Here, I give you these least of my children to care for in whatever way you see fit.” I didn’t want its gifts, but in the end I was made to yield and I took them.

I watched my children learn the ways of the tides but as they grew, I could see that whatever held me here had no hold on them. They passed in and out of range of its rumbling voice and finally left it behind entirely without ever once seeming to look back at us. They had been set loose on the world in a way I never was and now there was nothing for me here but the ocean. I was determined to have my freedom and as I stood on the edge of all that rolling power I spoke in a soft and measured voice, “I will not stay with you anymore.”

I set out to fashion a charm. A talisman that would free me from his hold. As day banked its fury in the water and night rose with renewed strength, I labored over my charm. I had little magic left in my heart to kindle the fire of this making but I poured every last drop of it into my creation of glass and stone and shell. I wound it tight with seaweed and thin copper wire and the blood I spilled in its making went unnoticed. When I had finished, I bound it to my bare flesh and, once again, walked into the arms of the ocean.

When I woke, I woke alone and I listened. I raised a hand, pausing at its unfamiliar appearance, and brushed at the tears in my eyes. Gently passing my hand across my lips I tasted salt and I heard…nothing.