Far Rockaway Poem by Susan Aizenberg

Far Rockaway

Look: a man is teaching his children to ride
the big waves. Hand in hand in hand they wade out
past the first mild breakers. Icy green fingers
tap the childrens' thin chests. Rising on their toes,
they inch forward, through the sea's startling
gradations: blue green, bottle green, ink pad

blue, violet — until, peering down, they see only
the plunging dark. Sea lettuce and jelly fish swirl
past them. Sun jewels the far surfaces, where a trawler
chugs, placid as a Great Blue, along the horizon.

Cormorants and gulls carve their elegant wheelies
in the bleached August sky, their shrieks another thread
in the day's tapestry of sounds: the insect drone
of a Piper Cub trailing its banner, Noxema Cools Skin Burn,

overhead, the tide's iambic susurrus. Now, somewhere
deep, past the quivering red buoys, the vast machine
that runs the ocean cranks up, and it's as if the girl
can hear the rusty gears, the ferrous clank of metal,

as the first line gathers and rolls toward them, the waves
rising, immense and black, swells laced with churning
froth, as the sea shifts its great weight, slowly, at first,
and then bursts towards shore, the three small figures watching.

The man laughs, and the children laugh, with pleasure
and fear. For years the girl will dream of this wild coast,
a single wave screening the sky, a tsunami, swollen
with intent, that chases her upshore, crashing through the seawall

so she must run, breathless, for home, the fierce water
relentless behind her as some furious ghost, her name etched
in salt graffitying dank alley walls. But now she waits,
letting it come, as her father's taught her, her lips bluing,

goosepimples roughening her skin, seasoaked
until she feels as if she might be turning back through history,
that chilled enough, they might sprout gills and fins,
devolve to the watery start. The enormous wave looms,

suspended like held breath, above them, and they dive
low, into its dark curl, trusting the surge to pass over them,
that they will surface to calm, the ocean rocking gently now,
spent wash foaming its delicate palimpsest along the shore.

Error Success