I never feel more comfortable than when I walk the beach, breathing in the salt air, collecting rocks and seashells. Poetry gives me the same kind of high. Its often short and sweet nature is exactly what I need to hear sometimes. I am an avid novel reader and lover, but when I need a boost, a poem is always what I gravitate to. So you can imagine my joy when I found my first poem about the ocean.
I grew up in Massachusetts near the water and minutes from Cape Cod. Part of my being is constructed purely of ocean water and sand. I have never once gone to the beach and not returned with an abundance of shells and rocks for myself and my mom as “special gifts.” My car is filled with shells I have claimed as special, and all of my purses have rocks and handfuls of sand. It sounds like I am a child, but I truly don’t know what it’s like not to be this way when I am at the beach. I want a part of it with me at all times.
I have compiled a few poems that mean something to me and paired them with pictures of people and places in my own life. Hopefully, these forms of art transport you to a salty, aired beach as you’re reading.
“I want to age like sea glass” by Bernadette Noll
I want to age like sea glass. Smoothed by tides, not broken. I want the currents of life to toss me around, shake me up and leave me feeling washed clean. I want my hard edges to soften as the years pass—made not weak but supple. I want to ride the waves, go with the flow, feel the impact of the surging tides rolling in and out. When I am thrown against the shore and caught between the rocks and a hard place, I want to rest there until I can find the strength to do what is next. Not stuck—just waiting, pondering, feeling what it feels like to pause. And when I am ready, I will catch a wave and let it carry me along to the next place that I am supposed to be. I want to be picked up on occasion by an unsuspected soul and carried along—just for the connection, just for the sake of appreciation and wonder. And with each encounter, new possibilities of collaboration are presented, and new ideas are born. I want to age like sea glass so that when people see the old woman I’ll become, they’ll embrace all that I am. They’ll marvel at my exquisite nature, hold me gently in their hands and be awed by my well-earned patina. Neither flashy nor dull, just a perfect luster. And they’ll wonder, if just for a second, what it is exactly I am made of and how I got to this very here and now. And we’ll both feel lucky to be in that perfectly right place at that profoundly right time. I want to age like sea glass. I want to enjoy the journey and let my preciousness be, not in spite of the impacts of life, but because of them.
POEM VIA BEACHCOMBING MAGAZINE
The picture above is of my sister and I holding rocks as we stand on the beach. This was Race Point Beach in Provincetown, the very tip of Cape Cod.
“The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, Sails the unshadowed main,— The venturous bark that flings On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings, And coral reefs lie bare, Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair. Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl; Wrecked is the ship of pearl! And every chambered cell, Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell, As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell, Before thee lies revealed,— Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed! Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread his lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year’s dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more. Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, Child of the wandering sea, Cast from her lap, forlorn! From thy dead lips a clearer note is born Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn! While on mine ear it rings, Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:— Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
POEM VIA POETRY FOUNDATION
This breathtaking photo is of my friend Sean and I scouring the shoreline as we look for rocks, shells, and sea glass in San Vincenzo, Tuscany. My most favorite part of my Italian vacation. I came home with so many treasures and shared them with my family.
“SEASHELLS” by Dr. Peter Lim
Seashells Humble shells of the sea Each seems to be still alive and staring at me In its matchless symmetry- Like the wondrous beauty of a painting A tender poem written with poignancy Not of life’s sorrows but joys For celebration –each is like a happy Mozartian symphony Such perfection in a tiny manifestation Natura in minimis maxima- The envy of Michelangelo or Da Vinci Seashells—nature’s glorious gifts by far. Seashells Always remind me of happy childhood days Lucky finds—spotted often in half -buried golden sand Proudly displayed in a jar---I won every classmate’s praise. Seashells Tell of the sea’s unknown stories Events that had stretched through millions of centuries When you spot one on the shore, readily Pick it up as a treasure----contemplate upon its profound mystery.
POEM VIA HELLO POETRY
This is one of my favorite captured childhood photos. From left to right is my sister Madeline, Charlotte is the baby, myself, and my cousin Ashley. We played in the sand for hours, enjoying every minute of it. I know that each one of us went home with a giant bag of rocks and shells; I am sure I still have to this day.
These poems make me feel like summer is upon us but also allow me to consider life as well. I hope they do the same for you and fill you with the same blissful joy.
Ready for summer? Here are some Audiobook recommendations from us here at Bookstr!