I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

14 May 2015

Making No Waves

I was brought up by still water. Waves, to me,
were those gentle ripples made by the wind
briefly skimming the surface of the river.

I saw the ocean from far on top of a cliff,
swooping and swirling below, thrusting white fingers
up the glassy sides of sheer black rocks.

I knew that, down there, those distant eddies
were huge; their force could hurl a grown man
to crash and shatter against that wall of stone.

I learned dog-paddle at school, won't drown
in a backyard swimming pool, and probably not
in a dam or a creek, or even a lake. But the sea ...

I never enter the surf. I'm too old and too large
for swimming in the safe shallows. Instead I paddle
at the sand's edge, where the spent waves can't catch me.

I think I drowned in Atlantis. Now I won't submerge
even in still water, above the neck. While my face stays out,
I'm calm. I can sit on a boat and laugh at the spray.

And I like to live by the ocean, hearing at night
the rumble as it pours across the world, to break
on our shore and soften, rhythmically, over and over.

Next time I come, I think I'll be a man. I'll live in Sydney —
or Hawaii — and throw myself into the sea while I'm a child,
to play without fear, and finally conquer the waves.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Waves


  1. This resonates with me, Rosemary. I never submerged my head, either, in times when I went into the water. Head up like a periscope at all times. For decades now the most I do is get my feet wet to the ankle, of a summer, and that's enough! I most loved lying in bed listening to the roar of the sea, times when I was lucky enough to live at its edge.

  2. Oh what a joy you missed out on...sad...It is beautiful under the water. Although I must say age does knock you about a bit when it comes to catching waves....more cautious and don't have the same physical strength I used to. Don't return as a man....they don't have as lovely an interior life as we do and you wont be as intelligent either:)

  3. To be brought up by "still water" depicts the strong & calm nature of a person..!
    Beautifully penned..!

    1. I'm a Scorpio, Sanaa, so it's a case of, 'still waters run deep'! :)

  4. I'm not an underwater person either, and love the sea for walking and sitting on the shore in the shallow wave lapping to feel the sand pulled out from under me. Your poem speaks volumes to me. I feel I know you. Except for the "next time." Although I believe reincarnation goes a long way to explain genius, I hope that this is my only carnal life. I hope my next life will be totally other, and maybe part of a very diffuse whole.

    1. I love this earth and this life, so I hope to keep returning. May we both get our wishes!

  5. It's so difficult to conquer some waves...I don't know swimming yet once had the audacity to float on a tube and snorkeled to peep into the households of the corals in the Bay of Bengal in the Andamans....of course there was a guide..lol!..however never had I imagined to find paradise there! But it was!! underwater!!

  6. Aah, you are so much like me, Rosemary! I never learned to swim as a child. so, I am still terrified of water. Whenever I am near water, I feel I'll sink like a stone!! Smiles..
    But, yes, I love the dash and roar of the rushing sea! Great piece. Beautifully penned.

  7. Ha...Love the title! But it's impossible to live among the people and don't make any ripples....you do too...I'm seasick forever...even though I'm not swimmer, but love the sea's embrace, salt on the skin and tongue, drying under the sun....~ love the peaceful feeling in your lines :)x

  8. I do think one has an advantage of one grows up with the sea when one is a child. Hawaiian mothers take their young children to the ocean and toss them back and forth between adults to get them very familiar early. They learn early to live with the waves, to conquer them!

  9. My respect for the sea is really about fear. It is so very powerful. I don't go in and when I have, I panic. Hopefully in the next, I'll learn to swim as a child, like you will.

  10. some beautiful ocean lines in this... i sensed the struggle

  11. The sea and I bonded when I was quite young (2). We were always taught not to turn our backs on the sea and I never have. The sea has always shared my stormy side. :)
    Honest poem Rosemary

  12. Paddling is underrated...it is still a connection with the wonderful sea...and it gives us time to really feel the waves not just ride on the surface of them

  13. Ha. Well may you get that opportunity to be a man -- and experience the water that way. I love the water, though I have been in a precarious position or two with water. I think drowning would be a horrendous death.

  14. An instant favourite. Loved it! I haven't spent much time close to that much water, being from sandy, desert-like state. But reading your poem, I could recall visiting beaches and feeling equally thrilled and scared by the waves.

  15. Coming back to conquer our fears is a good reason to come back.

  16. I don't swim and I've resigned myself to a death by drowning. That hasn't stopped me from throwing myself headlong into the waves. I guess we men are foolhardy like that! ;-)
    A lovely poem, Rosemary.