the sea saying, This is how you pray
to your rock of a god, your massive cliff
of a god, sheer drop into the bay,
kind of god. Look at photos from a hundred
years ago. Your god’s not moved. Glacial remains
of a god. Impenetrable. Can’t-wear-it-
down god. Rock face of a god. Face it.
You’re a dot on the landscape, a sheep’s droppings
before this god. The sea telling me, Maybe
the wind will side with you. Maybe it won’t.
So you wait, wait for a day in November,
a day like yesterday, the wind wild
off the Atlantic, but backing you up,
making you come wave upon wave face to face
with the wall of your god. Telling me,
You stand up as wave, are shattered to spray,
lifted as mist. You keep being lifted up
and over the fields beyond that cliff, mist
falling now over the matted wet wool
on the backs of sheep, their faces pushed
into grass. The sea, teaching me to say,
“So be it. So be it.”
This poem was awarded the 2015 Gretchen Warren Award by the New England Poetry Club.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.