Sawnie Morris

Issue #
March 24, 2019

Sea Time

The sea makes a steady feast of rocky shoreline during winter.
Waves rearrange entrances between stones
leaving you disenchanted when summer comes.

There is no easy path in or out.


You try on the rockiest of days to step across
shell-hardened slime surfaces

a meadow of new grass semi-submerged
and sprung from the jaw of a raw incline.


A man says it’s easy enough.
A boy with a set mandible says not.

I’m angry he says. I am so angry.

His mother crouches on the one flat spot
momentarily at peace

in a ripple-plane of shallow water
before pushing off.


Two friends teach you how to enter the water
              at a horizontal angle when a wave comes.

The wave makes a voluntary cushion
              between the soft meat of your bone-house
and the barnacle field of underwater stones.

Swells and hollows form a restless composition
              finger paint the surface of the sea field

its fickle oscillations.


The human body in a sea dense with salt can forget itself
become a slippery otter or a momentarily swift fish

with inconsequential feet.
                                            A swell never forgets itself

or the translation of its force – two parts sun
one part wind ¬– amassed over a thousand miles –

or what it means to become a shallower racier wave
approaching the geometry of landfall.

The release that comes with smashing into a cliff
the color and texture of fossilized almond shells.


Looking over your shoulder, the distance
between one crest and another

may seem greater than the actual period between them.
                             A ramshackle wave arrives

frenzies you past the pier you meant to ascend
and you are caught

in the disorienting cross-splash of a partial clapotis.


When light travels by way of a swell
it can take you into its possession.

The unstoppable desire of the wave –
its three times in, three times out again

grasp and smash – its killer enchantment
with the breakage of hard surfaces.


Your husband arrives, anxious retriever.
His calloused coppery feet make an entrance

at eye-line. Across dishevelment, his voice is a bright
animation of ultra-fervent matter

a high-noon plead of instructions and shadow-less
helplessness, an incredulous begging and shouting in

like a shoreline tree thrashing branches
in a land-locked levantana wind.


When the sea retreats this time
it leaves you a near-friend
in the form of an oppositional mantra.

I’m not that strong. I’m not that strong.

Climbing out is a leverage of shiny cuts of ancient teeth
solidified rubble, your husband’s available ankles
and the dexterity of your own pale feet in turquoise sea zapatos.


The primas laugh, the warm laugh of a cool panic
when it is over. Their bent legs lounge and mingle

like ocean spiders on cliff side beach towels.

The sun spreads its wings and dives directly down.
You unfold face up, your arms, your legs quiver

in the not-all-of-the-way-back-yet fissure.

The soft buoys of your breasts slide apart
bare and –– gratefully –– not sacrificial.

The incident, a mere tremor in the felt-net.
Murmur of a half-rhyme

underscore of troubled sentient weather.

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