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2018 Society of Professors of Education "Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention"

Place of First Communion with Bay and Kayak


To kayak is to . . . . . 


Start terrified and end up enchanted.

To face swells with fear, and instead feel thrill.


To watch the wet face of the water beneath my paddle, 

And indulge in conscious ruminations and subconscious dreams.


I thought the water would flow past me with each stroke of my paddle;

Instead it flows throughme – vibrates and sings in aching muscle and sinew.


I peer at the rocks below, green-dressed and barnacle-scabbed,

I invite the water, cold and salty, to weep through my fingers.


I, too, wish to weep  - I am accepted and held by the arms of this bay

Like I am no burden at all.           


 Like I belong.


I remember once hearing (though I will never know who uttered it)

That “the first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.” 


Like I belong.


Next time I paddle, I want to be alone, solitary.

Next time I paddle, I want it to be dusk, near dark.


I want to see the stars in the sky, held below me in the water,

And believe, with all my heart, that I am kayaking the Milky Way. 

Place of Ocean – Tides and Heartbeats


Me, a prairie girl, to the ocean, 

Pacific, for the first time

on the far west side

of a west coast island.


The sand on the beach

hard, unyielding.

I had expected to 

curl my toes in soft sand

like the pictures in travel magazines.


The sand reached distant and grey

to the fog, marine mist.

I crimped my feet over its ridges, 

crease after crease,

ran my tongue round bony palate of my mouth;

the same.


A roar that gorged my ears,

punctuated with bird call, screech.

I drew closer to the fog, the brume

like tinsel tears

in my hair.


Booming waves that galloped into shore,

taller than me, before they fell and shoved

themselves turbulently against the sand,

puddling and foaming, seashells and driftwood.

the sea wind dragged my hair.

the water churned round my ankles.


Pulling back to the ocean

the waves gulped the breath from me,

sucked at the blood in my veins.

I would have followed 

but my earth-logged feet

remained moored in the seaweed,

clasping me to shore. 

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