From the eroded dune,
a cascade of sea oat roots
holds the wind together.
Early spring. The waves
too cold to enter, we pine
for warmer weather.
At the edge of the beach mat,
small as a fingernail: the shell
the daughter chooses.
Waves fill the footprints
with coquina: bright seeds, next
To the Water
A surfer climbs a green wave
with toes pointed, her arms a prayer
and challenge to the water.
My girl, mysterious, pale pink as a shell,
stretches her small arms toward the blue
beyond the blue horizon. Navy fades
to glassy aqua, green, gray foam,
and butterscotch. For this there is no word,
and she does not search for one.
What does the infant know,
taken and returned by tsunami waves?
His mother smashes coconuts,
milk and water for gods’ rage and mercy.
She names the boy a second time, his own name.
Rising from the bath, I am surprised:
mine is my mother’s body,
flushed with heat and marked by birth.
All shells know: the ocean is inside.
I didn’t write this poem in response to the current disaster but out of my love for and connection to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, my home waters. It seems to me that a sense of responsibility for the environment comes from a feeling of belonging in and to a particular place. This is my place.
Although she was born in a landlocked state, Amy Watkins grew up in Florida, where one is never more than 70 miles from salt water. Her poems have appeared in the Apalachee Review, Bayou Magazine and The Glass Coin. She is co-editor and host of the weekly poetry podcast Red Lion Sq.