Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Neighboring Sea

For a few years of my life I lived a few blocks from the beach near Santa Barbara, California, but my world was so full of other kinds of excitement in those days that I gave very little thought to my neighboring kingdom. It pains me at this stage of life to think what I missed by not spending more time at the ocean's edge or at least gazing from the cliffs.

I'm reminded of that experience when reading Anne Porter's description in this poem. In the wee hours she is "remembering" what must have been as near in the daytime, just at the end of the street. It's from her collection Living Things, which was given to me at Christmas. My husband read this poem first and shared it with me only this morning. Devils-apron is a type of kelp.

The Neighboring Sea

At three in the morning the village is all in silence
But the silence is afloat on the roar of the sea
And all the streets are bathed in the roar of the sea
The waves are at their labors
Cresting and flooding all along the shore
Tumbling and spinning the kelp and the devils-apron
Threshing to meal the morsels and crumbs of stone
And the light seashells with their storm-blue linings.

This is the time of day when I remember
That down at the end of the street there is an ocean
A Nation of fishes and whales
A sky-colored country stretching from here to Spain
A liquid kingdom dragged about by the moon.
Anne Porter

Ke'anae Peninsula, Maui

8 comments:

Sara said...

What wonderful lines!

Being born by the sea, raised mostly in a seaside town and living near the coast all my life, somehow we were never quite close enough to hear it in the wee hours like this. But I can imagine it well due to her beautiful words.

Heather said...

I grew up by the beach and never fully appreciated it when I was young. Now I go to the coast every chance I get and wonder what I was thinking in my younger years.

M.K. said...

Lovely poem. Thank you!

Farm Girl said...

Lovely. I think sometimes all I missed in those years of mothering. Fall that went by without me even seeing a single color or a winter storm that I was so busy changing diapers I never saw the clouds. How many sun rises and sunsets I missed because my mind was on other things.
I think this poem is a sweet reminder of all we have is today. We can still visit there when we remember.

Pom Pom said...

Beautiful.
My family spent some time by the sea last week. Our Guemes Island Resort (a rustic row of fishing cabins) is so special to all of us. I think that is why I love the sea so very much.
When I say my family I mean my mom and some of my sibs. Not me.
You might like to look at it. http://www.guemesislandresort.com/

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you, PomPom! I love looking at these cabins and dreaming of a stay in one...so I filed the link away for a future vacation. :-)

Anita said...

I used to think that I loved the mountains more, until I saw the sun rise on the beach and I became a lover of the sea.

Jeannette said...

a nation of whales...yes!