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Sunday, May 14, 2017


by Bill Meissner

vis Giphy

I can never take just one photograph of
the ocean. The cerulean waves are too
lovely, too graceful, tumbling gently over themselves,
then turning to foam that kisses
the sandy lip of the world.
There are no other words for it—this
huge and endless ocean’s rise and fall, this
rocking back and forth, back
and forth, the way my mother used to

hold me when I was a small child, afraid
of the oncoming storm.
The brittle window glass rattled, but
she rocked me, and replaced the thunder
with a humming, a lullaby
that rose and fell.
It’s a melody I would,
as the years passed, remember,
then forget, then
remember again. There are no words

for this song my mother sang, her liquid voice
small, but still filling the room,
overpowering the fists of wind and stabs of lightning
with a language I couldn’t understand

at the time.
One single photograph
is never enough. I know now
that there is beauty in the things that are
closest to us, and beauty in the things
that we lose. She

is gone now.
But as a wave lifts itself and rolls
toward me, then bows down and becomes
a wing of bright diamonds,
I stand again on this shore, without words,
my bare feet sinking into
the hourglass sand,
and wait for that song to wash over me.

Bill Meissner is the author of eight books, including a novel and four books of poetry.  His most recent poetry book is American Compass from the University of Notre Dame Press.