LAST TRIP TO THE ISLAND
You're mad that I can't love the ocean,
but I've come to this world landlocked
and some bodies feel permanently strange.
Like any foreign language, study it too late and
it never sticks. Anyway,
we're here aren't we? —
trudging up the sand, the water churning
its constant horny noise, an openmouthed heavy
breathing made more unnerving by
the presence of all these families, the toddlers
with their chapped bottoms, the fathers
in gigantic trunks spreading out their dopey
How can anyone relax
near something so worked up all the time?
I know the ocean is glamorous,
but the hypnosis, the dilated pull of it, feels
impossible to resist. And what better reason to
resist? I'm most comfortable in
a field, a yellow-eared patch
of cereal, whose quiet rustling argues for
the underrated valor of discretion.
And above this, I admire a certain quality of
sky, like an older woman who wears her jewels with
an air of distance, that is, lightly,
with the right attitude. Unlike your ocean,
there's nothing sneaky about a field. I like their
ugly-girl frankness. I like that, sitting in the dirt,
I can hear what's coming between the stalks.
~by Erin Belieu
The following is excerpted from her interview at 'How a Poem Happens'
Do you believe in inspiration? How much of this poem was “received” and how much was the result of sweat and tears?
I do believe in inspiration, but really, inspiration and $1.50 is worth a cup of coffee. Everybody’s inspired, aren’t they? It’s getting it on the page where the ditch digging begins. So I carried around this idea about how I wanted to write a poem about how much I mistrust the ocean and how uncomfortable I feel when I go to the beach—any redheaded freckled people who might be reading this know what I’m talking about—and it took some years before the notion gelled with a scene and point-of-view and argument. That vague idea needed an occasion and a stance. So ideas are like asses: everybody has one. I guess I think all the various elements have to gather together and you almost always have to sweat for those. Sometimes you win the poem lottery, but for me the muse doesn’t hand out the free samples very often.