The poetry website Utmost Christian Writers, edited by Nathan Harms, has offered me a regular home for my spiritual writing for over a decade. This year I was honored to win First Honorable Mention in their annual poetry contest. My entry, “Lord of the Storm“, was inspired by memories of a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard when Shane was about six weeks old. Nathan has kindly permitted me to reprint it below. The contest deadline is usually February 28, with prizes up to $1,000. Read the winners here (more runners-up will be posted on the site during the next week).
Lord of the Storm
Here is the ocean I promised you
salting your forehead with my fingertips.
Motherless, I mother.
Brown foam sucks the sand from under my toes,
digging a hollow shaped like my standing.
Six-weeks boy, swaddled blue as Cape waters,
your cries scouring my heart.
Down the driftwood stairs, down to the eroded coast,
carrying you, the first trust in my arms.
You came from a longer sea,
a more constant sun.
Neither of us belong to time,
un-homed from the country of sleep.
I’d thought waking for you would be no harder
than my old midnight pattern of terrors.
Three a.m. in the mildewed sunroom,
no one breathing but us and the dark waters.
All the silences wore off at once.
My ghosts became baby birds pleading not to starve.
Today’s ocean has hush enough
to spread spangled to the pearly horizon.
Each glinting wavelet a day of my history,
washing my hands as I lose it.
Your shrimp-pink fingers curl at my neck.
You open stone-blue eyes to summer’s glare.
You have no name for yourself or mother
or drowning or birth, so I will tell you:
That solid shape rocking on the distant current
could be a boat where a friend lies sleeping
as bravely as we will sleep tonight,
a man who knows where he comes from and where he is going.