A new poem from the workshop I am in right now. One of the books we are using a book called In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poets Portable Workshop by Steve Kowit. I have found it really useful for accessing forms of poetry that one might not be used to writing about. In this case, it is a memory from childhood. I have never written about memories so it is new for me, and quite rewarding once it was shaped into a poem.
Long dunes slide into crags where the water’s beat
Wears deep grooves between sand and rock.
The air salty cool and grey. I can hear laughing
Over by the big rocks. Far ahead my brother
And sister jump through caves that look
With hungry, cracking eyes and pointy teeth.
I never could keep up with them, though I tried
With everything I had. My legs would not move
As fast or jump as far. But I was almost there.
A few more rocks, one more jump and I could
Play with them and they would smile at me.
I did not even look down.
I reached hard, stretched my legs hard to find
The ground but it was gone. All I could taste was
Spinning salt. Rough bites of rock clawed at my
Little arms and legs. Fists clenched sand and water
A warm, huge hand found me, a limp, wet doll.
I was pulled up and out of the churning water,
Softly sprawled onto hard rocks. My father
Slapped my back with soft, hard thumps.
I coughed out the sea. Everything was salt
And so cold. He stripped me of my wet clothes,
His giant green windbreaker swallowed me
With comfort and warmth. I heard them playing
Still and I started forward again
To the only place I ever wanted to be,
Wherever they were, my big brother and sister.
“You are too small for those rocks. Here take my hand
And walk with me. I will walk with you.” I looked way up
At my Father’s careful eyes looking down into my tears,
Little fingers wrapped around one of his.
The wind whistled through the crags.
He found a tide pool with a starfish.
The distant laughter slowly faded,
Fading like a longing fades when you first learn
That there are places not meant for you.
Sandra Walton 2013