Assateague Island, October

Summer is a good time to think about all the other places you’d like to be, whether, it be the beach or a pilgrimage.  This poem blends the two and makes them one.

Assateague Island, October                           Marjorie Saiser

For an hour my son stands in the bluegreen ocean,

his shoes slung over his shoulder, looking east past

the place where

in the shell-green water,

the water swells,

past the place where

the wave, though it has no beginning, begins.

Every seventh wave

against his ankles, calves, knees,

splashing up onto his old hiking shorts.

He has said the crash of the water is a breathing.

I sit on the sand. I too hear

the planet breathing

blow after blow,

my breath slows


That time when I pulled

your hair in anger. I am sorry.

Let this wave heal it. That time when

I made you, a little boy,

so carefully apologize

for what didn’t matter.

Let this wave heal it.

When I didn’t write you, afraid

your father would misread.

Let it be carried up

Like a handful of small white bubbles.

When I fussed over you.

When I couldn’t stop

even though you hated fussing.

Let this wave wash that.

When I talked too much

in front of your friends,

Let this water and foam

take it.

When you were in the hospital, fighting

The bars, the rails, my arms

To climb out of bed.

Let this wave take that away.

When I was busy growing up

and you needed me. Let this whole

sky-green ocean swell up

and breathe it away.

Tomorrow we will go to the

Vietnam Memorial, you and I.

It will be raining. We will stand

with others in the rain

and I will cry for the pink rose on the ground

and the old man holding a

black and white umbrella.

I will cry and you,

who do not cry,

will put your palm

like a rose

on the shoulder of my damp coat.

Name after name

name after name

rolls in us and upon us

healing you, healing me.


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