Features, Poems

James Bertolino, “Waves Again”

photo by Anita Boyle

The Pacific Ocean has a huge presence in the Northwest—we live in a region where it’s likely everybody has, or would like to, experience ocean waves. And I mean physically, as symbol, and in the way the Pacific figures in stories and myths that have emerged over the generations. I wrote this poem as a way to both examine what I know about waves and to think in new ways about this planetary phenomenon. While I’ve lived within a few hours’ drive of the Atlantic or Pacific for over 30 years, my entire life has been spent close to water: ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers and the sea. Sometimes a wave is a ripple, sometimes a tsunami, but always an aspect of the dynamic life of water. Earth is the planet of water in this star system. (James Bertolino)

Waves Again

What has not been said
about ocean waves?
That they resemble white
chicken feathers in the wind?
Or cream cheese icing on a carrot cake
after you’ve dragged greedy fingers
through it?

Waves have a sense of timing, which they
often violate. Waves are not always comforting
for new lovers, and can represent grave
disharmony to the old.

Ocean waves are like poets
whose tidal changes always make noise.

Waves can be a soporific
for those who would rather be awake.

Waves are predictable, despite the wobble
and thrash of their arrival. They are always
coming in, even when the water’s
going out. Or am I wrong
again?

James Bertolino is the author of ten volumes and fifteen chapbooks of poetry.  His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Indiana Review, Florida Quarterly, Paris Review, and Crab Creek Review.  His most recent book is Finding Water, Holding Stone (2009, Cherry Grove Collections).