I am thinking about the tide and watching it now, again, for several days. We are about 60 feet above the tideline in a house on the Oregon coast and I can see the ocean moving from above. I know there is a still moment between neap and ebb, but I can’t see it. I look for it and then get distracted for a minute and what was coming in is now retreating. It is not violent but it is relentless.
We spent the day dropping crab pots in to the Nehalem River’s mouth where it meets the ocean. The crabs ride the tide in and the pots fill. The ocean rumbles in to the river and, like Listerine it washed out the mouth. After a little while the pendulum swung, the river pushed out the water to the sea, the crabs were gone and we pulled our pots and went home.
What if the water didn’t move? I think I would want it to, but I wouldn’t know the difference. Unmoving water is called stagnant, a word not nearly as lovely as neap or ebb. Swamp, bog vs ocean, estuary. No contest. I’m resting in the motion.
This is one of the first poems I ever wrote. I was twelve
I wandered down the line between the sand and sea.
The moon’s tide receded around my ankles, gently, incessantly pulling me.
It was nighttime, and I was beckoned to the sea. The invitation was brief. I could easily have walked straight into the foam.
Maybe I did.
In that brief moment I understood the rhythm of the water and stars and night laboring to birth another day—just as when watching a sparrow fly, I can sometimes mobilize one beat of its wings, hold the magic and glory of flight, but just a single beat—then
it’s just a picture of a bird.
I was one with the sand and the sea. There was no more line.