Tag Archives: shorelines

A Different Kind of Shore

When one looks out past
the breaking waves at ocean’s end
those across the sea

seem much less remote
connected by this expanse
of constant movement.

Away from the sea
In a great endless valley,
peering at the edge

of the horizon
where the sky and land connect
the mountains rise

dark blue and somber;
they separate more clearly
expanse on both sides.

Yet the more finite
space of the wide sprawling plain
is not the desert

hugeness of the sea,
it does not shift and not shift
change without changing

it just dries to dust
and then turns again to green
is lost in deep snow

and each spring flowers;
the ocean’s chameleon
greens, grays, blacks and blues

breed deeper hungers,
suckle darker fears and dreams
and know their own gods.

religions are born
of the deserts and the seas —
seeking to fathom

the underlying
pulse that moves without travel
swallows with no trace.

14 JUN 2004

Random Thoughts from Gulfport Mississippi

Along the coast, the wind was steady, giving the trees that stood two or three hundred yards back from the shore the chance to continue, with their low rustling, the rhythmic chant of the gulf against the sand. Youngsters, in the reckoning of trees, with only a rare few older than that time when Camille wrought such destruction and split Ship Island into east and west; yet a live oak for all its fable longevity grows up fast, and unlike human being who sprint into adulthood and find themselves winded by middle age, these impetuous trees become real elders ahead of forest schedules, laughing with their great arms outstretched over two or three generations of their offspring, who struggle in their mighty shadows.

It is with a great and satisfied sense of perversity that I pay for my gift shop purchases, at a shop just down the street from Beauvoir, the now-museum home of Jefferson Davis, with a wad of five dollar bills, Lincoln-side up.

Yet the ocean itself (which is not the ocean, but the Gulf, says my mate) knows no north and south, no coon-ass or cracker, no redneck or Freedom Rider. It may be the Gulf, and not the Sea or the Ocean, but I sense the presence in the waves that crash lukewarm over me of Lir, of Kanaloa, of Poseidon and Neptune. It is that great mass of liquid that connects us, fluid that knows no real master or nationality. In the gift shop again I look over the rows of seashells available for purchase. Product of the Philippines, one is stamped. I laugh. As if the Philippines were required for this mollusk to come into being.

When I was 17 years old, the age that my daughter approaches now with great anticipation, I spent almost all my waking hours in or at the ocean. That was when I truly became an introspective soul, I think. In the face of the sea’s constant Music, spoken words become superfluous and strange.

Away from the shore now, back home in New Orleans, I sat down to read a book; and immediately fell asleep to the gentle sounds of surf remembered; a long sleep, filled with dreams of connections and endless tangents, of currents that hide beneath the surface and feed the cold depths with light by osmosis.

I wonder — to compare the thoughts of one who has never experienced the ocean (and I’m sure there are a great many such sad and deprived souls) to one who has lived and played in its great shadow. The great religions of mankind, those that must be written in books and given form on a weekly basis, must have been conceived inland.

Finding the Ocean (Again)

I have looked for long hours across the bay,
sensing in the coming dawn some great sign;
after my simple chores are done each day,
when each minute spent does not seem so fine,

along the windswept shore I roam, my eyes
scanning the horizon for floating birds,
seeing the joining of the earth and skies
and in that union, peace beyond words.

Today, there in the mist I thought I spied
upon a raft, a man who looked like me;
our glances locked, and with my hand I tried

to steer his way across the stretching sea.
He waved, and in the wind his hair was wild;
I waited on the rocky shore, and smiled.

11 JUL 2003

Finding the Ocean

I have lingered long by the endless shore,
voice lost to the surf, that infinite shift
that pulls itself from the littered ocean floor
and upon which my thoughts float free and drift;

for many years I saw only the edge
of it, against the long horizon’s line,
and heard, in the haunting seagull’s solfege
a wistful song that sounded much like mine.

I could construct a raft, I thought, and tack
against the wind and storm, to other shores;
perhaps there I would find what here I lack –
a quiet port that the busy world ignores.

But now, upon the distant coast, I see
A figure in the wind that looks like me.

10 JUL 2003