What happens to those fervent wishes sent out into the ethersphere, unspoken perhaps, but backed by powerful feeling? Sometimes they come round, like a delayed reaction, After you don’t need it anymore, what you once wished so hard for…
Year or so ago, I left Washington for a while, moved to Portland to find a job, and wrote out some big chunks of words that had lodged in my head. And once I had books worth, I started sending the manuscripts out into the ether, where nothing much happened. It felt like practice, like training, like a good faith exercise in reconciling poetic nature in a tangible world.
I looked for jobs, too. All year long. Temp jobs, freelance gigs, part-time positions, work for friends – all of these came my way and passed again like snow flurries, where nothing white sticks to the ground. Nothing green stayed in my bank account for long. My plan upon arrival had been to land a produce job at one of Portland’s many and fine grocery stores. Applications and job fairs came and went and again, I heard very little in return. One of those bewildering episodes, where things Should be proceeding smoothly, and for some reason, don’t.
Strengthening. And ultimately frustrating enough to say “Enough with this.” And I picked up some old threads and followed them back to Washington, to put down some roots in this potato patch in Skagit. Round about when I was packing up the uhaul, the tail end of a poetry wish came true, and this poem I wrote a few years back about an afternoon dip in the waters off Teddy Bear Cove, was accepted for publication in an anthology of Portland Women Writers called Voicecatcher. It’s a beautiful book, with poems and short stories arranged elementally, and Starfish Time anchors the water section. You can order it online at www.Lulu.com, which is a fine independent publishing site.
And after some months of good faith barista-ing in Everett for Tully’s coffee, I just accepted a produce position at the lovely Skagit Valley Food Co-op, so that wish came true too. A little delayed, and me gone a little raggedy in the interim, but pleased nonetheless. So come visit me and the vegetables in Mt Vernon, and here’s the published poem:
Up close in the summer
riding the backs of the sandstone boulders
as the waters rise slow in the cove,
the starfish seem sewn like patches
overlapping the barnacles
leaking salt in the long wait
from tide to tide.
We placed our last things
on a hump of stone
and wandered out thigh deep
in the Sound. At our feet
the water clear, a colony
of orange and purple, fresh submerged
stirring to life.
So many fingers
I wanted to lay my body down
above them, float on my back
in the sun-warm shallows
taking in the shoreline upside down
the sky a blue bowl
rimmed in gold and green.
I wanted the ocean moving beneath me
rocking my limbs in a salty lullaby.
I asked if you were ready
and you wanted to be so you said yes,
but it wasn’t true yet, what you wanted;
you were still straddling the shore.
In an underwater movie with sped-up time
the starfish move in teeming hordes
they cover ground like colonies of ants on land.
Our short immersion into their time zone
was only a sea breath, a cilial possibility
the beginnings of grace.
There’s a man in Costabel
on a coast that calls shipwrecks
who steps out into the early low tide
and plucks stranded starfish from the rocks
where they cling, pitching them
through the waves into the hurling sea.
Have you been him?
Have you too, longed to enter the inter-tidal zones
with your heart pumping
and your limbs working
on some inexplicable urge
to save whatever life moves you?
You can watch it all; see it very clearly,
but without that spark of irrational love
– the one that asks you to shift speeds and feel
from beyond your particular time –
without that urge to submerge yourself
in the world, don’t hope to know it yet.
The world unfolds only as the heart learns
too, and the heart – the heart is a starfish
it covers ground without seeming
to move, sometimes.