A HUNDRED STEPS TO THE SEA

1

along the shoreline, the heads of two gray seals
bob and glisten

later, three seals together, lazy

and then, a dozen seals basking and lolling ensemble
twenty feet out
“you never see that”

while strolling a ribbon
between sand cliff and ocean

I try estimating one ladder or stairway
from the cottage above

later, two young wives
from Atlanta and Nashville
cute as can be
in their annual escape from their husbands

tell me they rent a place
just over the crest

109 steps        “Every year we count ’em
and they’re never the same”

against shoreline hammered every fifteen seconds
by a three-foot curler or six-foot breakers

judging by surf fishermen
at fifty- to a hundred-foot intervals

still, where the high apron of beach has been cut away
at high tide, I’m forced to remove shoes
roll up my pants and allow the surge to swell around me

it’s warmer than Maine
now after Labor Day

“Had I known, I would have brought my swim trunks”
“but it’s pretty rough, too”

hard to believe I’m walking on oysters or clams
the receding wave sighs
when I glance back at bubbling sand

another seal patrols the shore

when I see more of them in one day
than in all the rest of my life

2

comb jellies – white melting ice cakes
gelatinous to the touch
slightly resilient, like grapes
all over the place, where the water’s just been

scallops, they call ’em – open up in the water
like jellyfish (their relations
but these don’t sting

crab shells, a few mussels:
somebody’s eating well:
a decaying small shark

3

just three boats visible white specks
plus the freighter over the horizon

yes, 3 vessels
where yesterday
we saw none

wide open ocean

at my feet

would I rather be
kelp
or the indestructible
green rope
tossed from the sea?

sea spinach

4

just north of Marconi Station
keep thinking I hear jets
under the relentlessly crashing surf

many crab shells at the waters edge

some decaying fish up to two-feet long {cod
strands of spine
a gull leg and webbed foot

all to myself, step out and pee

a pair of footsteps
one going my direction
the other, approaching

above, beach plum like large blueberries

Marconi Station “you’ll know by the bricks”
knocked down to the Atlantic

but I see just one red cube and
way down the shoreline
what I think old pier pilings
begin moving as I approach
schoolchildren, field trips

the real debris appears as milk jugs
clear plastic bottles and cups, foam plastic coffee cups
and insulation, yellow nylon netting, multicolor nylon rope
a battered lobster pot, a child’s toy outboard motorboat
a cooler melted in one corner, stray firewood neatly cut
bottle caps, a large oil filter like a radar cover canister
(haven’t seen a condom yet), a black inner sole to a size
eight or nine shoe, pressure-treated lumber, nothing
too revealing so far, Glad bags, drinking straws
an aluminum shard barnacle embossed, a rusted horseshoe

4

as for cottage colors
on the bluff

gray shingles
blue trim

each one with a brick chimney
and fireplace romance

my wife contends a seaside cottage
should be plain, simple
something that can be blown away in a storm
without horrific loss

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of seacoast poems,
click here.

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