I was driving to work one morning and for no reason in particular, I was thinking about the ocean. As a girl who grew up by the water and had ready access to beaches, they played a pretty significant role in my memories and thoughts.
As someone who has spent a lot of time watching the water (day, night, morning, evening, calms, storms), I knew from experience that waves are like snowflakes: no two are identical. The idea of each wave representing a different memory struck me really powerfully, and during my commute to work one morning, I had constructed most of this poem in my mind. It touches, very briefly, on some memories I wasn’t very comfortable exploring yet.
The support of friends and the overwhelming response I received to this poem is the ONLY reason I continued to write poetry after this day; I expected it to be my first and last attempt. It just shows you how impactful your comments on someone else’s work can be.
Original text is below.
bare toes on rough rock, every wave higher
in a moment I will disappear
white foam curling over stone
a dance through time, each wave a memory
overlapping and spinning together
seconds out of a year, subtle moments until
the ocean has swallowed you
one piece at a time — peace comes in time
sometimes they’re gentle, a handshake or smile
others crash into you, fists into teeth
some arrive silently,
a touch – a wink – a hug
a few break so loud it bruises,
knives and bourbon and blood
the wind to whisper and the sun to sing
soft sand and sharp shells
elation and devastation coexisting in salt
no one sees high tide coming
until they’re drowning in it
but this time I refuse to sink