I remember the gentle waves and how we put our feet in the water and sang.
The sky piercing blue. Seals came out to play on the rocks.
No one else was there.
The wind sunk to a whisper. Wine warmed by sun.
We passed the bottle back and forth. We laughed that we had slipped away.
Your eyes serious like the sea.
We broke bread and dipped it in olive oil.
Somewhere we had found a cracked dish.
We spit olive pits into the sand. My hands were oily,
I smeared them on my chapped feet.
Shells washed up in the surf.
You shook your wild hair, mammal or mermaid.
We had to shield our eyes from the sun spatter of the sea.
We knew when it was time to go.
I don’t remember anything we said. Only the sweetness of ripe tomato.
You always carried salt in your bag.
We were young. No one had died yet.
The stretch marks on my belly were iridescent.
My silver necklace had six turquoise stones and one had
fallen into the sea, my offering.
© 2018 Wendy Brown-Baez
first appeared in Water~Stone Review 2018
and when did it begin
this sweet necessity
to know you are listening to my
salt-spray heart, rhyming tide
of beach foam, the moon
calypsoing over my raft as it
sails away to a bay of palm
trees and white doves. I sent a
continuous signal of SOS
code of revelation and urgency
not knowing if your dial was
set to my frequency. Like a dolphin
rounding the curve of its young and
nosing to the surface, did I float
free of disappointment and vanity.
Did I think when you turned
away, the soul threaded between us
snapped clear? Could I count on a
dream to pull me back, did the
open sea take me, did a fierce wind
abscond with me, scowling like a
beautiful god determined to have his own way.
© 2009 Wendy Brown-Baez
first appeared in The Litchfield Review and published in Ceremonies of the Spirit
A Poem for Oliver
Rocking next to the Christmas
tree, the child in my arms sleeps.
Colored lights slide over his face, our peace
as reverent as if we knelt in church.
Let his breath come even and soft, let him
fidget, held beyond waking and dreams.
Let his brightness never fade, let him be wild
as the stars slung across the sky.
Let him reap the fruits of love. In his tiny hand
sugar cookies leave a sticky sweet.
I think carefully on this world he
has entered. The TV tells me all
I need to know of grief: shattered homes
from last month’s storm, gunshots ring
out in bloodied streets, foreclosure notices point at
where a family once lived, moved on to some other sorrow.
But snuggled safe, this child knows
neither hunger nor fear. The worst that has
happened is a tumble and a pinched thumb, a brother
leaving him behind a shut door.
I intend to keep it that way but we can’t keep him
from life. His heart will be broken—he will lose
and be lost, cry with rage and pity. But with
his brightness sweet around him I pray it is not too soon,
and does not last any longer than he can bear.
published in Saint Paul Almanac Volume 13: A Path to Each Other