All this month, I've been featuring poets from my home state, Maryland.
We've been feeling at sea in my house lately. Both of my children are winding down at their schools and getting ready for their next adventures: high school and middle school.
My daughter can't wait to join her middle school TV studio and book club. But today, she was embarrassed when all the fifth grade girls were lectured about appropriate dress (if you have cleavage, keep it to yourself).
In Lalita Noronha's poetic hands, "At Sea," has a very different meaning from the one my family is experiencing. The ocean in her poem is real -- alien, but comforting in the sense of welcome the speaker feels.
by Lalita Noronha
Buoyed by memory,
we float a hundred feet beneath the sea,
arms spread wide to glide past years that
disappeared into a long good night.
Beating like soft hearts,
clouds of jelly fish rise.
Sea lions come to tickle our hands,
whiskers soft as hair.
Behind the kelp,
suspended like a question mark,
a sea horse stares
and dares us to forget.
And in this blue cosmos,
at least for one moment,
the skin of a sea-tulip blooms pink,
a hundred feet beneath the sea,
Published with permission of the author.
This poem first appeared in JMWW, Winter 2008; http://jmww.150m.com/Noronha.html (A great journal to submit work to, by the way.)
Writing Exercise (Upper Elementary - Adult):
Many of us have had these "without corners/without edges/without ends" moments when we connect with animals.
When the speaker in "At Sea" touches sea lions and comes face to face with sea horses, it gives him or her a sense of timelessness.
Write about a time when you connected with an animal (or other living creature -- a tree?) and felt this way.
One of my favorite poems on this theme is "A Blessing" by James Wright. It's posted at the Poetry Foundation.
Another Maryland poet is hosting Poetry Friday today! I can hardly stand the serendipity. Please visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for the last round-up of NPM 2011.
Hi, Laura. I agree this poem is very welcoming. I felt like I kind of floated through the sea as I was reading it.
It's interesting to hear about the transitions your kids are experiencing. We are traveling without our girls right now, and it is making us think about how quickly they are growing up. Before we know it, they will be in high school and middle school, too. Hope "the sea" stays steady for you during these transitions!
Exactly, Kerry. It's such a comforting, relaxing poem. I should start chanting it to myself.
We're okay -- I think it's just a rough return to school after spring break (esp. with scant weeks to go before school ends).
Enjoy your big person trip!
Loved being submerged in this soothing poem. My favorite part is the "sea lions come to tickle our hands." :)
Me too, Jama. She never says so, but I just know that water is deliciously warm, with sunny hot spots. Mmmm.
What a lovely poem! I love the imagery. Thanks for sharing it and your poetry exercise. Oh, and for stopping by my blog!
nice poem; thanks for sharing it
Thank you for posting "At Sea," Laura. I wrote this poem at a restless time in my life when I felt at sea and longed to live without corners or edges or ends. I'm so glad other bloggers found comfort there, too. Love, Lalita
Thank you, Lalita. I appreciate your insight into this poem.
Late as usual, I'm swimming in to say how much I enjoyed the middles of this poem but especially the juxtaposition of "buoyed by memory/we float a hundred feet beneath" and the last three lines: this idea that floating happens way below the surface as well as atop it, and that's when (lungs full of water) we become without corners, edges, ends...
Lovely, Lalita, and thanks, Laura. Rough seas at our house too, as you divine.
Heidi, I hope things are looking up for you today. So glad the poem found you when you needed it.
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