After a Day Beside Long Island Sound
I need the sea. In recent years—
in valleys of the shadow, lashed
by loss, assailed by rage and fears,
a witness as things fell and crashed—
I’ve thought the Sound might better suit,
or else a bay, a gulf, a lake:
more subtle water. What a brute
the sea can seem: its breakers take
your breath away as they insist
on largeness, power, turbulence,
and noise—each wave a foaming fist
assaulting sand and ear. No sense
of rest beside the sea, no balm
for lacerated nerves, I thought—
but in the Sound’s restraint and calm
I’d find the soothing song I sought.
The Sound did lend its peace: both still
and not quite still, it nudged the shore
and psyche with its blue-white frill
of murmured solace. But, heartsore,
I learned that solace isn’t all.
It doesn’t answer rants and cries
in kind, or flaunt a monstrous fall
routinely followed by a rise.
The Sound is lovely, but its gifts
fall somewhat short of empathy;
catharsis comes from larger drifts
and louder songs. I need the sea.
It was, at first, my mother’s mother’s ring,
and then my sister’s; oddly, it had skipped
a generation, its neat shimmering
not quite my mother’s style. But it had slipped
with grace onto my sister’s slender hand:
three tiny diamond chips set in a small
round-cornered oblong on a golden band.
Although we laughed about this, I recall
my jealousy: that heirloom was the one
I’d hoped for—a desire I didn’t hide—
but it looked great on her. She said, in fun,
that she would leave it to me when she died.
I wear it every day now, and I guess
there’s nothing that I’ve ever wanted less.
She Brought Me Berries
She brought me berries, sweetened by the hands
that plucked them, by the island air that fed
their gaudy blush, by nearness to the sands
where our own skins had once turned pinkish red,
and by our confidence that they would burst
with juicy richness in our mouths, the way
they’d always done, each summer from our first
as girls at “U-Pick.” Now, well past the day
of our first blush, but at their season’s peak,
green baskets full of red would start to fix
the damage that had left me pale, my bleak
outlook subverted by her clever tricks
with taste and time: she started mending me
with fruit, affection, and shared history.