A week later, I still can’t write the poem I wanted
to write about Cape Cod and the ocean, the storm
and after the storm. I wanted to write about fear,
being awakened at midnight and told “take shelter.”
But there was no cellar, nowhere far from windows.
I wanted to write about waiting out waves of lightning,
torrential rain and wind as long as we could stay awake,
then giving up at last before dawn, to hope, faith, sleep.
And I wanted to write about the awe with which
I always approach the ocean – endless, infinitely
mutable but always itself. The cleansing simplicity
of sand and surf, its peacefulness and its violence.
I wanted to bring in natural history, how the Cape
was laid down by glacier, how the ocean was comet
melt and volcano breath from before life began
and long after the Cape washed away would remain.
I tried to write it four different ways and couldn’t reach
that point where I say “hmm,” say “done,” and turn
away. It was all too much for one poem. So instead,
this, the few lines that always rang true in every draft:
“Next day, when rain ends, we walk back through
pitch pine, white oak and holly to stand again
above the beach where the ocean, wholly wild
now, pounds out its oneness on the drum of sand.
“My body, itself a bag of seawater, feels the drag
of the yellow moon rising at the world’s edge.”