The Sea

Have you ever watched the sea? I’ve only really watched it from the shore, and not that even that much.

It moves like breath. In, out. Like the back of a child, up, down, as it sleeps in its crib. A heavenly hand caresses it with cloudy touch. In, out.

Dreams sleep there. Water fairies and krakens and pirates and the sky. The sea holds our dread, and it holds shores.

What are those shores worth? I wonder. Shores of sand and coconuts and spears and trading companies and rifles and gallows. Shores of magic. The cloudy hands hold those too.

From the shore, the stormy sea seems not so stormy. But get out on it… Have you ever felt a strong undertow? That restless babe is but a drowning factory. A toilet. A grave, pulling on you like time, and you tromping and splashing to escape.

Or the calm. You don’t meet that on the shore. The shore is always breathing, trading its woody fares for foreign winds and unearthed sea bottoms. And death.

And what is land but death, anyways? Porous, petrified, stillborn Adam. And here we are to work it.

I have never seen a calm sea. I suspect it’s a lot like death. No breath, just space for the walking room of your thoughts. We were all made for that place—where the water stops breathing and the wind doesn’t wander.

But were we made for that place? Is the sea made for calm? Wet movement upon stone. Waves and waves and restless weight. Like my six year old.

And like the rain to the rivers—beading and dripping down, down, down—all our lives go to the sea. And don’t get all uppity. The sky is the sea too. We drip down to the sea, to the very edge of the shore, and we fall in.

I’m not sure if it’s time or fate or possibility or creation. It’s something, and it doesn’t seem to want me to define it. But I suppose that’s just like anything God makes. And as I try, it breathes, in and out, and it sleeps and angers and dies.

Life and death are like the sea. But what can I tell, really, from this Adam? Maybe someday, God will walk me down to the shore, draw me by the hand in, and take me down to its depths.

 

 

 

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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2/17/2017: On Line Breaks in Poetry

I’m looking at the two versions of of a poem I wrote, “Reach” (As of 10/18/2017, it’s still just sitting in a folder on my computer).

The first, what’s more natural to me at this point, separates lines into different grammatical parts. For instance, in the first stanza, I separate the three prepositional clauses into their own lines. I follow the same thing throughout the poem, actually. It’s all separated into different grammatical parts.

I have read poems that do not follow this method (some more than others), and it’s these that the second version emulates. They break sometimes in between grammatical units, like nouns and their modifiers, like prepositional clauses, etc. The effects seem to include natural forward motion, like stair steps or like the meter in Jabberwocky, and an emphasis on certain words or phrases that wouldn’t otherwise be noteworthy.

Here’s a couple for study:

http://www.rattle.com/on-domestic-ecosystems-by-liv-lansdale/

This one seems to break each stanza into three lines regardless of what’s going on in the thought. At the same time, thoughts always end at the end of a stanza, even though a thought might take up more than one stanza. Each line is two to three words. So I can’t tell if she’s following the numbers or following one of the other purposes I mentioned before. Or something else I’m missing.

https://www.fathommag.com/stories/the-cellist

Garrett also sticks to a specific number of lines in each stanza, but he doesn’t seem to stick to a specific number of words in each line.

Perhaps I should read up on modern line breaks. There’s bound to be a reasoning I’m missing.

Ophthalmoi

An oak looms in the garden,

My effigy of pain,

I’ve not climbed since May’s rain,

When soaked hands slipped,           bones broke, skin ripped,

And I ran inside, alone.

Friends on the oak’s limbs beckon,

Enticing me outside.

In my kitchen, I’ll hide.

Wood can’t harass    me through paned glass,

Crouched, back to the door, alone.

If I could see the arm that reached to stand me up again

To climb the oak, to rest upon not ground, not under limbs;

If I could see the tree anew,

Not sharp as black but multihued,

With eyes not mine to recognize

Insects and birds, the clouds and sky.

The oak waits in the garden.

I climb its trunk again.

Scent of rain, shouting wind—

Rustling leaves          can’t hinder me

From escaping my prison.