lie back, and the sea will hold you.


[source: barry payne]

I realize the ocean is a recurring theme on this thing. I imagine it bores you to tears at times, but you’ll manage somehow. 

The wonderful Carrie O’Neil once sent me a postcard years (years!) ago with an excerpt from the end of this poem. It included a man on a bicycle. In honor of this poem repopping into my head, I am shouting into the interwebs today in dedication to her (if there’s another recurring theme this blog boasts, it’s that my friends = the shit. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.).

First Lesson

Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s-float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

“First Lesson,” by Philip Booth from Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999


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