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Your voice is hurt, with fractured vowels.

‘What don’t I understand?’

I stroke it smooth:
My brain's free arm is seeking consonance,
to span this subtle chasm you can’t see.

It’s ankle-deep, and wide as the Atlantic.

On a solitary shoreline
I squat on my heels
folding patience into paper boats.

They’re beautiful, my boats
So eloquent with love and living,
with anecdote and idiom,
odd dialects, pop culture, urban myth.

They land as ruined relics,
if they take the wind at all
Their careful creases soaked and dumb,
bright cargoes slopped ashore as sodden salvage.

(You sweep the debris up
with little whisks of neutral smalltalk:
you're polite, but unimpressed.)

When I run out of paper,
I cup both hands
to salt-stained mouth
and holler words like ‘homesick’.

On distant sands
your stick-man silhouette brings hands to ears,
miming a semaphore of mute enquiry.

Then he reaches, titanic, across the flood,
gathers me up
in universal language.

Pressed to your chest
I barely notice
if my boats ship water,
sink five fathoms deep in foam-capped silence.

These are our good times:
Days of drought,
of parted seas and roses.
Nights shared speechless
under shushing skeins
of common stars.

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The following comments are for "Sea crossing"
by MobiusSoul

deep waters
this is a beautiful poem, helpless and fragile but tender and loving. And deep. The lines sit light like paper boats on the water but they carry this wealth of emotion with in them, all this weight of words not said. You can really feel the pull of the storms below the surface. The last stanza is gorgeous too, with its good times of "parted seas and roses" and "nights shared speechless". On first reading there's nothing about this I would change. Brought a tear to my eye, it did.

( Posted by: AuldMiseryGuts [Member] On: July 11, 2006 )

Sea Crossing
I haven't the words to describe how much I love this.

( Posted by: chinadoll [Member] On: July 11, 2006 )

Ah, yes
Couldn't agree more with the above commenters. Very touching poem and the paper boats as an emotional image is a real grabber, like little sailboats slipping to sea.

I would like to comment on a spot or two. Where he "brings arms to ears" - I'm not sure I am picturing the "semaphore" you mean. Is he cupping his ears in an effort to hear what your are hollaring? If so, I think "brings hands to ears" would be more effective, complementing your "hands to salt-stained mouth."

Now this is really nit-picky: for some reason "of parted sea and roses" reads better to me than "of parted seas and roses."

Also, is that big space in the body of the poem intentional or a formatting glitch? To me, there is something awkward about it that doesn't quite work.

All in all, a terrific poem.

( Posted by: gomarsoap [Member] On: July 12, 2006 )

Slipped my moorings

Ms. Caitlin, this is surely one of two or three favorites I have with your poetry, to date.

This poem is smooth and ethereal; already perfect in the billow of its weave on the second reading.

The ending does not plop, but nudges our little boat out onto the pond with hardly a ripple.

Take care.

~ John

( Posted by: Flonigus [Member] On: July 13, 2006 )

AMG, China, Gomar, Flonigus - paper-boat-blues
It's really nice that something here carried through to you all. This poem was very... felt, but a struggle to write. Nothing after the initial concept came easy... and I didn't much like the result until tacking on the final stanza in a moment of inspiration. Now, I like it better, though a few lines still fall awkward to me, and I fear it came out more sad/reproachful in tone than I'd planned. As usual when I start a poem, I wanted only to say 'This is the way things are'.

Gomar - that behind-ears 'can't hear you' gesture was exactly what I had in mind, and you're right: 'hands to ears' IS clearer. The yawning rift in the middle of the poem is a bizarre formatting error that I'll fix soon! And 'parted seas'? I think I actually like the assonance of two plurals, but mainly I feel like parted seas, in biblical verse, are generally pluralised for some reason? Anyway, it's always interesting to have another poet's sharp ear applied. Your praise means much too.

Flonigus - so lovely to receive a comment that is itself poetry. Quite touched.

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: July 13, 2006 )

Actually, the biblical reference is to a parted 'sea'; though I personally prefer the plural, since it suggests this has happened on multiple occasions. I was a little disjointed by your changing person near the end, from 'you', which makes it personal address, to 'he', which shifts it to you descibing it to an audience, hence making it less personal.

Otherwise, a good piece. Actions speak louder than words.


( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: July 14, 2006 )

John - to 'he' or not to 'he'
Interesting you should say that - it's one of the several parts that I wasn't sure worked. The intention was, I guess, to send the 'stick man' into the third person to emphasise his distance; then to bring him back to 'you' as that distance teloscopes and becomes ephemeral after all. But maybe not. And thanks for the correction (scriptural ignorance will out)... but I think I'll stay with the plural anyway.

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: July 18, 2006 )

no correction
I said I also preferred the plural, so no 'correction' was offered.

The best use I've ever heard of a switch in addressing is in the Psalm of David that begins

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,"

and continues the third person addressing until

"Yeah, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of Death
I shall fear no Evil
for Thou art with me..."

and it gains tremendous power from this shift in addressing from the more abstract 3rd person to the much more intimate 'Thou'

"Sea Crossing" switches from the personal 'you' to the more impersonal 'he', and, for me, loses power in doing so.

Of course, it's your poem.

( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: July 20, 2006 )

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