Nine years after Chan’s death, it was still sometimes hard to remember what I needed.

Bearings, November 2013
This morning when I went into the woods, I didn’t know what I needed.

It wasn’t until I’d turned my steps from pavement to sink the uneven crust of snow
that I looked up and saw pink and blue of early morning winter light
behind thin black lines of endless boughs,
and I said aloud, the world is good and this will be ok and finally began to weep.

Oh yes, this sadness. I had forgotten. And on I walked, my body remembering this home
of wide horizons and a clearer sense of East and West.
The grief at my center wedged in against my gut at last found room to
grunt and gasp, and sob its way out as I walked on toward the sea.

There, always sudden in its arrival upon my anxious mind, the ocean,
vast bowl of cold seething shadows
glow of morning light breaking over sharp horizon’s edge.

I spend so much time boxed in small spaces that I forget the natural scale of things.

I love the ocean. Today for its careless abundance, tossing treasures at my feet
trinkets of stone and bone and succulent living matter.
Kelp in bundles of glossy strands
Glassy stones lunar white, length of rope thick as my arm,
tiny beards of lavender lace clinging to night-blue mussels,
wood polished pink by scrubbing sand and sea
tucked in beds of mouth-watering seaweed.
So much to delight in as I trudge along
that were I to stop and cling to one precious thing
I would miss the rest
so I keep on
sometimes sinking in the sand-spattered snow
sometimes my good rubber boots awash in the pleasure of cold waves.

Sea bubbles over flat shore and recedes
disappearing water leaving skin of pale iridescence
where sky and sea mix like gasoline on water
and an impossible view of pastel warmth in this almost frozen place
glitters before the next wave washes over once more.
And I know that I needed this
this way to get my bearings again
returning to waves and water and sky
and I know again that water shapes the shore even as
she is shaped by it.


Catharine H. Murray, Author of Now You See the Sky

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Catharine H. Murray

Author, poet, speaker, workshop leader, teacher.

One thought on “Bearings

  1. I love that the water, your tears and the ocean, washes, shapes and nurtures your grief. I picture the sharp shards of grief turning to beautiful sea glass… Thank you for this reminder of the “natural scale of things”


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