Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunset in the Rearview

Hi Everyone-
Thought I'd repost an old poem from around 2006. I wrote it on the road, driving from the beautiful Pacific Northwest back to Oklahoma. It was 2:45 am in a stanky motel in Laramie, Wyoming. I had eaten nothing but apricots from Uncle Vernon's orchard and had driven 16 hours, with another 12 or so to go. Needless to say, I missed my ocean. Read on:

Sunset in the Rearview

Sometimes the ocean calls to me and I can hear its waves beating against Pacific shores- “Mermaid, come back to the water”. I can hear it amid the humid mirages in Oklahoma and catch a puff of pungent sea salt smell lightly lingering. A surprise, a reminder, a voice carried on seagull wings. And I know in my heart that my legs are fins, cold and scaled and meant for the icy climes and rhythms of the bottomless depths, blue, green, black.

Far off in a dream my ocean calls and I ask my friends if they can hear it but of course they can’t because their ears are landlocked and only faint traces of our sea creature ancestry lingers in their pulses. Once in a while one will cock her head to the side and say yes that she hears it too. Maybe her grandmother was just like me. I sigh because I need him, and then make plans to visit.

Always the same greeting we give each other. Waves laughing at my feet and siren song lapping my toes. Summer, winter regardless of the temperature, I remove my shoes (provided I’d worn any at all) and run, skim along the waves edge and we play chase with him running to catch me and soak the bottoms of my trousers, birds scattering pell-mell and crabs sideways stepping. Later I sit on a friendly log and listen to the wisdom of my father the ocean and sometimes cry and sometimes laugh and sometimes shake my fist and ask why. Other times we engage in the conversations of the water and gulls and clams in the sand and all of the skittering pelagic ones who skim with me and swim with me and build up my mermaid soul because eventually I must leave, salty tears and all, for my subtropical life in Oklahoma with its snakes and lizards and flying biting things.

Last I stop by the grave of my father, my real one, who rests atop a grassy knoll with other of his kin and some who died as sailors and all of them interred before I was born. When he passed on he entrusted me to the ocean as the strength I would lean on and to whom I would look for guidance and care. I tell him I love him and carefully make my way back to the car where my fins fall off and turn back into legs and my scales turn to keratin hair.

The ocean swells in my eyes and I go back to Oklahoma to wait for the call of my father and always heed, for he has something to tell me when he says “Mermaid, Mermaid, come back to the water”, whispered to the wind and carried thousands of lonely miles on the back of a seagull.

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