an insidious sea

but there is a line   
You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it   
Spry cordage of your bodies to caresses 
…The bottom of the sea is crue
l
Hart Crane ~ Voyages I

It was always enough
just to see the sea
to stand mesmerized
at a lapping tide
the tickle of water coiling
ankle deep and that motion
near and far, near and far
- then marking out the last line of defence 
we'd bucket up a castle 
where weed and shell lay drying.

I like to watch the waves
circle and stalk the rocks like wolves
slinking through cracks, leaping crevices
just to linger on sandy bottoms in pools
and in these dioramas,  a small diver's world
crab, shrimp, snail, a fish head 
and always gory red anemones
tentacles withdrawn.

It's more than enough
just to paddle barefoot
for the deep stows its perils
and there beyond the sandbars 
a myriad wrecks crumble down the ages.
Out on the horizon, a swift summer storm 
joins forces with the sea, to fling
and swamp the little sailboats 
silent running for the shore.

Winslow Homer’s Summer Squall inspires this poem – one of Merril’s options for her Poetics prompt: Sun, Sand, Storms, and Celebrations: Summer Ekphrastic

29 thoughts on “an insidious sea

  1. I love this poem, Laura. It’s funny because I was recently discussing with someone how I’m drawn to water, but I don’t really swim. Your first stanza was so vivid with the motion, that I actually got a bit woozy. But it’s your second stanza that really stands out for me. Such great imagery–those stalking wolf-waves! Wonderful!

      1. We are water watchers. I walk by the river nearly every day here, and when I’m at the beach, I could stare at the waves for hours.
        I’m so pleased you liked the prompt!

  2. How mesmerizing to watch the sea and get lost in the rocking motion. You delicately described the energy of the waves in the second stanza. What a treasure from the perspective of the diver’s world.

  3. Lovely write Laura. The sense and temptation of all those dangerous imagined realms (and perhaps the act of imagination itself). And the Hart Crane epigraph – wonderfully sadly ironic – given that he died by walking off the end of a ship.

    1. many thanks Peter – I suppose that is it – standing safe on the shore considering the dangers! thank you for the Crane update – even more ironic that I chose it too

  4. We all love the Potthast shore and fear the Winslow … but Crane, like Melville, knew that truth was in the depths, and the poem’s imagined depth is off the bridge of a ship or down a flight of stairs. So what are we to do with those glowing, perfect shores? Well done – Brendan

  5. Reading the first two stanzas made me wonder which picture you’d chosen, and then the last one pulled it all together. It made me think about how hard it is to balance the small pleasures of a comfortable life with the storms out there. But if we don’t enjoy those miniature dioramas, what is the point of it all?

  6. I adore the visual of waves stalking and circling simultaneously engaging yet terrifying. Your words as intriguing as the sea itself.

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