“Any fool can get into an ocean…”

By the seashore. Guam.


Any fool can get into an ocean… by Jack Spicer

Any fool can get into an ocean   
But it takes a Goddess   
To get out of one.
What’s true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming   
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the
    water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when you’ve tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That’s when the fun starts
Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2008).


Every time I feel stressed or lost or listless, I find myself being drawn to the ocean.  Most of the time, I don’t get in the water, I just stand at the shore or find a place among the rocks.  There I stare out into the horizon, sometimes its as if I’m searching for something– an answer, a sign, a connection.   I don’t even speak, I don’t even move, I just listen.  I may stay for a few seconds or even an hour or so.  At times, I do get that answer/sign/connection.  Other times, I don’t and that’s okay.  Its almost as if I’m checking in.  And when I drive to my next destination, I find myself rolling down the window and cruising down the road in silence.

I can’t explain why I have an affinity for being at the seashore, but I do know that it leaves me centered.  When I lived in the Midwest, I felt cut off and displaced.  That, too, I couldn’t explain.

But I do know that, when the stresses of the world envelope me, sooner or later, I’m at the seashore again, not speaking, not moving, but listening. And that’s still alright with me.



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