Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I wrote this poem last year when I was caught in an ocean rip. I had never understood how a person could drown in a rip. We'd been warned before going in and before I knew it I was way out and thought I'd better go back. It was the first day of a two-week Sanskrit intensive and I had just met the woman standing next to me. She got back in first and turned to watch while I struggled and somehow made it. I felt the line of her gaze pulling me in. My muscles went to water. My breath was sucked out of me. I stumbled as I reached the edge, almost fell. That afternoon, I had also felt overwhelmed by my inability to understand any of the language spoken around me. I was also drowning in words.

rip dp 60
for Lucinda
She was drowning,
not waving in the
rip of language. Help,
she called breathless,
the cold of its logic
wrapping itself about
her limbs. Swim across
the rip, through the
decline, let the wave
and its rhythm carry
you in. When you are
ready you will stand
upon your own two
feet. Don’t stumble
into the deeps of other
tenses, keep a cool
head. Her feet are
falling out from under
her. Linguistic dizziness
has her in its thrall.
One step, two step.
One breath, next breath.
She has found the
shoreline, the continental
shelf of language, her
feet are solid on the sand.