Out to sea


Was I the last one waiting? Epochs passed,
tides tossed the island twice each day, sometimes

a lazy shushing, sometimes violent—then
tides would frighten me, count-down clocks striking

off the muzzy days and nights. Mosses grew
around me—pin cushion, pale shield, old man’s

beard. One gray day, walking on the sand,
I found a wooden shoe last, size 4, stamped

1903, the cobbler who’d worked with it
long gone—yet why only now had it washed

ashore? And one night, I saw 6 peonies
tossed on the rocks—Sarah Bernhardts, I thought—

fringed yellow hearts, their palest pink petals
tinged vermilion, strewn, shipwrecked children,

lonely drowned bodies white in the moon’s glow.
Where does anything come from?

I picked my way over granite to gather them,
then brought them back to the cabin

where their frail heads drooped from a Chinese vase,
nodding feelingly at the dead child’s shoe.

Then, a little interlude of pure joy, amnesiac,
so human—then hail, rain, wind, the flailing trees.

Harry Roseman
photo by Claire Marie Vogel