Literary Hook: Poem recollects the Oregon oceanside

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

We just returned from taking the Coastal Starlight from Tacoma, Wash., to Santa Barbara, Calif. The train trip brought back many memories of time spent on the West Coast over the years. Here is a poem set on the gorgeous Oregon coast.

Oceanside, Oregon. 7 a.m.

Low tide and empty beach.

Even the mist incandesces below

Three Arches, their peaks like primitive gods.

A faint rainbow forms

around them perfectly

like a shrine.

Last week’s measured life

with its compromises

like broken sand dollars vanishes.

On the great redwood’s limb

now bleached bone-gray:

our initials, JS/CS.

Who could guess a couple

married for 40 years?

Still, today I walk alone

head down my favorite inlet,

past the familiar shanties

and new condos rising:

misguided fortresses

that trespass shifting dunes.

No matter what — I still return,

and when I round the bend to Netarts Bay,

the entire village, old and new,

is fodder for the fog pierced only by pelicans.

High hum of wind and gull’s shriek.

Today this beach with its shells

and parables is my companion,

and you, drinking coffee,

reading newspapers, you’re earthbound.

I’m all tides and fog.

Only give me these dreamy mornings to keep.

Let me sit again on burnt driftwood, my back

against a dune, sing again the song

that ends in Sanctus, Sanctus.

It is enough to count myself among

the lucky, plucking perfect agates

and Holy Ghost money from sand.

And you in your blue stocking cap

and black leather jacket, waving.

First published in Peninsula Review (contest winner). Then published in Poetswest. Also published in Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity (Wind Publications, Nicolas, Ky., 2005) and The Alleluia Tree (Puddin’head Press, Chicago, 2012).

This poem was first published in Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity, Wind Pubications, 2005.Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards.

From the Oct. 2-8, 2013, issue

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