Tag Archives: ocean poetry

The Space Between Here and There

by Laura Parker Roerden

The reeds are awakening
in a dawn of haloed light.

Morning has risen
and is lined by low tide
at the edge of the marsh,

where gulls

are already signaling
I am late;

late to the riotous exposure
of mussels and clams and polychaete worms;

late to the stars

that have somehow
squeezed as if through a curtain
and are unfurling in symmetry

and colors
impossible to name.
For just at the moment I understand a hue,

it is gone, lost forever.

The wheel is always turning at this edge of this sea.
Sand is now exposed as sheen in the low light

reflecting gathering clouds.

A herring gull dives toward the sand like an acrobat,
but at the very last
minute, veers skyward

with a green crab in her beak. The crab is no more,

or less than the gull;
the sand and sky holds the moment
as if in a light box.

At the edge of the marsh
water flirts with light
where a piebald brown bird

drags behind a broken wing
like too much baggage. This bird

is scavenging the contents
of a small styrofoam container.

The other gulls gather
and crowd the injured bird out, flying away
with some fries and pieces of bun.

I pick up the container and notice
pieces of styrofoam are missing
where beaks have left

behind tiny
pockmarks.

But the bird is preening
beneath his wings and tail,
as if nothing has happened;

the tide now covering
everything left behind
in a sleight of hand.

The gulls have moved on
and are patrolling above where the

surf breaks. The sun now a flat disk
in a suddenly featureless sky.

It’s as if a dream has rolled in,
where things exposed

are now hidden and those unknown now seen.

I half expect to see the broken bird fly aloft
on gunmetal waves of power and momentum.

©Laura Parker Roerden. All rights reserved.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd.

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Pelagic Water

by Laura Parker Roerden

Go to open ocean, I heard,
as I had spent too much time struggling

on the edges in the surf.
There is only one way to climb

out of the grave of a riptide;
all lifeguards know this.

You must swim parallel in deeper water.
You must give up the safety of heading for shore.

Pelagic water is where you’ll find
your agency. Where the bottom that drops out

beneath you is a relief from striving.
In open water, you no longer orient

to the rocks or sand or sky. You must begin
a long dive within to mark your spot on any chart.

You must give up the idea of destinations and float on your back
to calm a fraught heart, even as you imagine

what lurks beneath might be something bent on harm.
As you breathe, each draw is a deep pull down

to the wave trough of awareness.
This is all.
 You will find an inner landscape has just as many

reference points as land. Only now you will navigate
by memory, by sensation, naming feelings as if

plotting pushpins, with paper giving way with ease.
Yes, this pelagic water is where you’ll find fragments

do not fall like shards of glass or dried flowers
or dust; but instead flutter and fold as one,

revealing shade as merely depth or night
and shape as the other side of dawn.

© Laura Parker Roerden. All rights reserved.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth,

About the Pelagic Zone
The pelagic zone is the part of the open sea or ocean comprising the water column, i.e., all of the sea other than that near the coast or the sea floor. The name is derived from the Greek πέλαγος (pélagos), which might be roughly translated as “sea” but is more accurately translated as “open sea.”

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