RwA 5.3: To the Sea

“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.” 

―Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Waterlogged Past

         As a child, I came with siblings and parents. We
                       played in the surf, gathered shells, saw
                                    dolphins and seals frolic in the
                                     foam of the roiling, green sea,
and built sand castles—knowing waves were coming.
                         Time passed, life changed and the we
                            became my husband and family—all
            of us came together on the coast, and we ran
                     along the beach, hunting for agates, but
   Neptune had changed. Become a more solemn God
                      and I realized the tsunami of time saves
                                                   from the past, so little.

From the headline of The Times of India, December 28, 2004

–> Lorraine Jeffery


Writing In a Flood

All the slight degrees of dark
prove nothing’s simple, like thoughts after 
zero was imagined.   Shadowhood and 
post-temporal seas

You only enter the otherworld alone.

I look for water the way it was 
before it was ever seen, but this is more words 

and it’s getting late.
Who said  grim currents 
of the riptide

who said  undertow
A page is an opened light before the words 
darken it.  If I say it out loud, 
I’m already under water.

–> Alexander Etheridge


Writing Free (of Glass Lines)

See the perfect Rose blossom frozen
In a clear and solid sphere
Or tropical fish flashing in perpetuity,
Restricted to a glass box
Where we can always watch
Their colorful moves of dull,
Redundant insanity trapped in glass
Lines. When emptied and on its side,
Some can into it themselves enfold,
then emerge smiling, to admit
Reluctantly, “It’s a living, and so I’m dying.”

–> M.Kelly Peach


Sky Coming Down   
            for Anne Sexton

            “Man has not woven this beauty,
            only madness could have made it”
                        — weaver’s song, Kashmir

How did you go on
after your sister finally decided,
how did you go on alone
unraveling at night what you had woven all day,
wandering the unhemmed margin of the sea,
dipping up the salt medicine in your teaspoon
to swallow one more sunrise?

You interrupt yourself,
bird-cries calling you to the voyage
almost audible in your lines
as if a knot of yarn has escaped the needles,
your knitting is full of the scars; it is
a wedding veil you weave in your funeral gown,
you long for your virginity again—

Meanwhile you send back
poetry in bottles from your private
horizon where harsh sirens
sing, where ship-smoke waves its black handkerchief
and goes over with all hands, where you found
a new continent combing sand out of the untrimmed
ends of your hair—

You too finally decided,
at last you followed your sister
and the summons of the gulls,
on their white wings and hoarse cries you took flight
from the labyrinth, your palace of artifice:
like a queen who refuses the blindfold you chose to see
the precise steel edge of the sky
coming down.

–> Stephen Wing

Things To Do When You Should Be Writing

Get lost in Facebook memories and miss the children
who live in your house
Knead the dull ache of your knees and imagine the vistas
you won’t hike in five years or so
Make a foamy Nespresso and worry they don’t actually 
recycle the spent pods you send back every month
Fold five loads of laundry and then run
two more loads, but this time think about 
how the kids will leave you 
Drive to the gym, and when you cross the Severn River bridge,
the fog will lap at the shore and despite the rain, the lone
sailboat hovering in cloud drifts will move you but
Take a BodyPump class instead and calculate how much 
you’ll have to work to afford your oldest son’s reach school 
Blink away prickly tears when you imagine the silence 
your oldest son will leave behind
Think about metaphors for the moon but have nowhere 
to place them, so the smudged thumbprint of the moon and 
the low slung cradle of the moon will rattle the bars
of your empty brain
Worry about the pear trees which blossomed 
with December’s false spring 
Recall the day your youngest son almost died and the way 
you kissed the rubber of his lips
when you pinched his nose and covered his mouth with yours
Fret about the trees you’re sure won’t grow leaves this spring, 
after the blizzard splintered their budding branches
Realize that when you think about the day Simon almost died,
you see polaroid pictures, their edges frayed 
from your constant handling, but you no longer hear 
your husband’s gutted wail or smell the chlorine in his baby curls
Recognize it’s possible that this time, 
you have nothing 
left to say

–> Rachel Mallalieu

Composed in Afghanistan
“You are all a lost generation.”
          —Gertrude Stein, epigraph to Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

The twilight was my envelope and the sun,
he sank into it. Lost, nothing save story.
The letters, all practical, were really accidents

not connected with the war.
Home clenched in the letter
“I” that no suggestive detail might help.

There is, in drawing, a blue-tinted burn
that the small, unburned margins escape.
Beyond the see, I think myself a private

lamp, its ragged edge torn from notice.
Same old forms folding and returning
to our visit—an account we cannot discuss.

You must put this paper and the remains
out upon the sun, already re-rising.
Doubt that you are very real. Go back.

Yet too closely, the wind still screams strange
story elements like a sheet of sea in a gale.
Reabsorbed once more—sunk, as are their nature.

Created from Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Other Stories.San Diego: Cantebury Classics, 2011. Print. Pages 222-224.

–> Jennifer Met



Some stories go to the end of their world, Narnia and Fillory, Middle Earth and Earthsea. Their end is always the longest journey, far past pleasure. Waters at the end are uncharted. You see the mountain far away, far beyond your little strength. There is no guide but your memories of failures, the beggar you refused, the friend you sacrificed for flimsy praise from a stranger. Your wooden boat leaks. Magic drives it streaking over open seas where no rain falls, so far west that you leave behind the stars you knew. The new stars are brighter. Not astonishing, when your home world has gone so dull.

The end is empty of everything except its ending. Fog, or sunlight bleaching bones. Your eyes sting, you retch against caustic air. No Galapagos finches. No blue flower of a new plant sprouting from the hero’s heart, growing right before your eyes. If you insist, dragons. Or border agents, to stamp your papers one last time. Bureaucracy keeps the edges tight. No sailing away into the air, leaving that world, triumphant as the locals watch you shrink to pinpoint.

These worlds are flat like buttons, like coins. Mountains make the beveled rim. You climb up over the peak, moving along the flip of up into down, first heavy then adrift. What can it feel like, to be squeezed through emptiness before you find your way out? All agree:  reaching the end of the world changes you. Of course no one will believe you’ve been there.

The long way around is the short way home. So say all the books. Their heroes return in a flash, a dazzle. By now, everyone is tired out. What a let-down, to finish the book and go back to your life.

–> Karen Greenbaum-Maya



Riddled with Arrows 5.3:
“Eulogies, Epilogues, & Effigies”
Foreword: After Words
Contents | Contributors
Earth to Earth | Dust in the Wind
Blood and Bone | Featured Fiction
Writing Endings