High Tide: A Lisa Hammond Poem

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I met a girl named Laura Rashley in Miami at the National YoungArts Foundation program last January, where I had gone to teach for a few days. I admired her work and her spirit, the calm way that she carried her own beauty, the quiet leadership she offered, the dignity she effused, the friends she had and made, and when, on the last day, she told me that her mother had bought a book of mine to share with her, I stood back, shook my head, squinted at her in the sun. We teachers don't expect to be read. We rarely are.

Laura had allowed me into her life and she, like so many others from that wonderful program, stayed; you don't say goodbye easily to goodness (I don't). And because Facebook is what it is, because bridges are oddly and sometimes magically forged, I became friendly in time with Laura's mother—a poetess, as it turns out, a teacher of English at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

Last week, in response to something I'd sent her, Lisa Hammond, Laura's mother, sent me her first collection of poems, a chapbook that had won the 2006 Robert Phillips Prize and was published by Texas Review Press. Today, following a struggle with work of my own, following a long walk on my own, following an hour in my office, listening to crickets and mourning summer's end, I read "Moving House" through.

You can write about earth and be writing about marriage. You can write about pansies and mean time. You can slip your daughter and son in between the lines of a poem, and the poem is as big as a novel, or weather. Lisa Hammond does all this in "Moving House." I hope Lisa won't mind if today I share my favorite poem.

High Tide by Lisa Hammond

The coming storm, the full moon pull
creek waters inland, further and higher,

til I am standing in the drive, ankle deep
and we hurry in to wake the children

to see the picture the moon has drawn.
Bright darkness so clear we see minnows

in the grass, ants drifting awash, seeking
dry lands. I take the baby slowly

down the dark watery path of the dock,
stepping alongside sawgrass, a sharp

reminder of the edge. I hold both his hands,
each step another moment past bedtime,

water reaching just over his knees,
him in front, me stooping behind, watching

for the moment we must stop or walk off,
fall into the swift current of hurricane.


Lisa Hammond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Hammond said...

Mind?? I am blushing from the loveliness of your comments! Thank you, Beth, for a beautiful post--and for reading the poems!

Serena said...

wonderful...just beautiful...you are inspiring people everywhere!

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