Tag Archives: poetry

The Estuary

The Estuary

At the edge of the estuary where
the river vomits a bolus of silt that hangs
suspended in a density column of water and brine,
where the sediments billow and surge
like an underwater dust storm,
I pull up the oars of my sea kayak and wait awhile.
My little boat sits parallel to the coast, and the waves pull
and push lazily. To one side is the wide yawning
mouth of the river and to the other the lapping tongues of the sea.
Each beckons with its own peculiar call:
“Come,” they both say.
The voice of the river is thick and languid
but the voice of the ocean roars like a lion,
demanding an answer.
The river will take me nowhere, I know,
but the ocean will bear me nowhere I know.
The known nothing, or the unknown everything?
I dip the oars and turn my sea kayak
where it was meant to go,
pulling myself forward
and leaving the estuary.

(Written after the style of Elizabeth Bishop on November 11, 2009, with minor changes to punctuation made when I transcribed it today.)

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I remember everything and I remember nothing
everything that hurts and nothing that heals
can’t I remember everything?
can’t i remember nothing?
why must I remember both–and neither?


another piece of juvenilia

Last night I went to a reading and workshop with author Lee Martin, where I ran into my creative writing teacher from high school.  Slightly baffled by her effusive praise of my adolescent writing, I went in search of my work from that period and I was somewhat surprised to see that my voice has not changed significantly since then.  Whether that means I have completely failed to grow or that I was actually fairly well-developed as a writer remains to be seen.  I suspect that the true answer lies somewhere in the middle: the same emotional and mental patterns will tessellate through the course of my life; only the colors and scale change.  Here is what I consider one of my better poems from my senior year of high school, written in response to a simple classroom prompt, and the funniest part is that I had no idea how accurately and repeatedly it would ring true for me in the six years to come.

Bittersweet is
knowing exactly what to say
but having no chance to say it,
not knowing what to say
when the opportunity arises,
discovering the terrible truth
just in time to run for your life,
wasting your time in ignorance
but enjoying it while it lasts,
doing something
you wish you hadn’t,
not doing what
you know you should have,
making the call
so you can hang up the phone,
waiting for the call
so you can ignore the phone,
telling the truth
and being punished,
living a lie
and losing yourself,
loving someone
who can’t love back,
being unable to return
someone’s hopeless affection,
knowing you’re right
when no one else does,
being told you’re wrong
when you just can’t see it,
writing a poem
so you don’t scream out loud.


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