They fell, down a mountain —
or was it a crevasse, a ravine?
Were they buried beneath the frozen white,
or when those hills were green?
My father falls after them, still, and slowly
I could not stay behind to watch
as it ate away at the both of us;
now he’s gone too far away to touch.
My desires, my wishes reach out to me now;
they’ll grasp my ankles, if I let them
My dreams of late are filled with waves —
from the deep, I hear their darkness beckon.
The sand is hot, birds wheel in the sky
while that old water calls out to me:
“Remember how I held you so many times…
remember how well you loved me?”
As a girl, my mother called me her little fish
and I wished for the scales of a mermaid
Forgetting that, were I ever to meet one
only death could follow her serenade.
So I fell last, not where or how I believed
could ever creep in and surprise
And now, at last, she beckons me, and I
am lost, falling through his warm eyes.
Just as before, the water is fierce
deep and strong and dark…
Below is ahead of me, above is behind
as her waves swallow my last little spark.
As a girl, I read of little Hattie
and the ocean she watched all her days
Now I wait, too, with these hopes like rocks
weighing me down, though he never stays.
Image © Barbara Cooney, 1990. I still own my old, well-loved copy of Hattie.
(And still, I am no poet. Apologies; I couldn’t sleep.)