Still August: A Poem About the Sea
In August, still August, I went to their home by the sea.
Something had changed in me and
when at sunset we went to the water
I had none of that girlish glee that had propelled me into the waves
But I put my feet in and the sea rushed forward to meet me,
the foam frolicking between my toes, my old friend greeting me.
The waves withdrew and I relished in the sensation of moving backwards.
I had changed
but the sea was the same.
I went in to my ankles, moving slowly across the sand
and the broken littoral line where seaweed lay scattered
and little crabs shimmied their way through the rocks
and baby clams in many colors. I leaned down
and captured a fistful, their tiny painted shells
cracking beneath my fingertips — gentle,
gentle. One turquoise like the sky; one gray like the
blank canvas of my psyche; one crimson
as blood; one purple as the peaks
that rose somewhere far away
at the edge of my imagination.
Before I knew it I’d plunged myself halfway.
The foamy water rose to my waist. I plummeted in.
There was the girl inside of me, embracing the water,
rejoining the sea. The ocean roared and I
turned my face up towards the sky. And
breathed deep and dove and rose,
like Venus born again. It was still August
and it was still August in my heart.
For this poem about the sea, I drew inspiration from childhood visits to my grandparents’ home on Sea Isle City, New Jersey, a barrier island off the very southernmost part of New Jersey. We went to New Jersey at least three times a year when I was a child, and I always loved playing in the sea. One visit, though, I remember feeling differently. I felt older and more grown up, almost as if I’d outgrown my urge to run into the waves.
Well, not quite. I love the sea to this day! I hope you enjoyed this poem. You may also want to check out “The Smell of Onions Cooking,” another poem of mine that draws on childhood memories. This is my first poem about the sea, but it probably won’t be my last.
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