Standing on the beach at the edge of the sea,
Here where the shore is blowing sand
And runs a hundred miles to Mexico—
One enormous edge to all that water—
I am overwhelmed.
How can I have lived for half my life
And never seen this?
Never been beside the ocean’s great expanse
Nor felt the force of its immensity
Full in my face?
On the long, long journey here
The familiar land was taken from me bit by bit,
At first the hills and trees,
And then the soil itself
As we jumped off from shore
And crossed the broad lagoon to the slender island,
So little sand for so much ocean!
My Midwest mind recoils,
Tries to reject the things
It sees somehow as wrong.
It tells me there is too much water
And that I am in danger.
And though I laugh, saying
“I am by the sea, great mother of us all,”
I still feel a nagging nervousness
As if I have a hidden memory
That this mother can be cruel.