by Marilyn Graham
copyright 2011

"Sandpiper" watercolor by Erik Kaye, copyright 2011

a glittering transparency
speared and held to the ground
by yellow shards of grass
can I trust what I see
an organic leaving
among crackling sounds
each cell division /the knitted shape, apparent but little else
from the end where once there was a head
now a mouth with eye-holes
my hand instinctively unwinds the rhythmic pattern that holds it in one place–
recharged by the current of smooth muscle strength
conducted by all creatures who live whole lives,
I stretch to my own full length and pull it free
I was born and raised in Texas.
When I was five, my dad went overseas/
After that, I always felt he had the jump on me.
I trusted the ground.
I could not understand OCEAN.
When we rejoined Daddy,
I never again trusted in that original wholeness,
that feisty kid shaped like a Shetland pony.
I had been a blond; my hair darkened.
I had felt invincible.
At six, I felt mortally wounded.
As marvelous a body as I found it to be,
the ocean held great grief for me,
a grief that only surfaced when we pulled up roots again
and left the friends I had made.
In Japan, our appetite for sand and salt was insatiable.
We absorbed the elements through our pores, into our lungs.
It circulated in my blood,
and as long as we lived close to the ocean
and Daddy took me and my brother beachcombing,
I was happy.
I had been Texan.
I became a little Japanese.
cool, hostile, indifferent even.
Daddy tried to prepare me for the cities
that ran together, what freeways were (I didn’t know)
and smog.
I couldn’t visualize or understand
any better than I could visualize or understand Japan
when we sang Beyond the Blue Horizon
in that 53 blue chevy.
In fact, I couldn’t understand once I experienced it.
I was overwhelmed by the lack of nature
isolated from all of the elements
of life which had previously sustained me.
There was no room (for humanity).
There was no humanity.

Categories: poem by Marilyn Graham


1 reply

  1. This poem is so beautiful and terribly sad. It really evokes lonliness and yet there is such strength and beauty in the journey. A really lovely poem.


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