Grand Forks, North Dakota
It could have been a January like this
when the afternoon light
from that bowl of blue sky
illuminated the tips of snow
drifted across fields, like waves,
the harrowed land
glittering like a prairie ocean.
So we took the children out to see
the ocean. A woodpecker beat
its steady drum into a fence post
and a cardinal flashed brilliant
across the white waves.
The children averted their eyes
then scuffed their boots
across clumps of snow.
It was no good.
They wanted a real ocean
with salt and sand and seagulls
across a turquoise sky.
After Because by Linda Pastan
Because it was winter and we were young,
we drove to the coast on a whim.
No, it was because it was Christmas
and just the two of us
and our presents were small and disappointing.
Or maybe it was because
we wanted to escape Christmas altogether.
So, we drove to the coast
and walked on the boardwalk.
Sideways rain seeped into our socks,
soaked our rain jackets
and because it was Christmas
we were alone on the beach,
the shops and cafes closed.
It was just the two of us
and I remember how we stopped
in the rain to hold each other,
laughing as the sky and ocean merged,
a giant soup of salt, water and sand,
us in the middle,
holding the whole wet world in our embrace.
Suzy Harris grew up in Indiana and has lived in Portland for her adult life, as teacher, lawyer, parent, spouse. She is now retired and has returned to poetry, watercolor, oil pastel crayons, and other means of playing with color and words.