In my earliest memory I am drowning,

upside down in the shores of my hometown.

I’m two years old, on the sand with Mom,

seaglass in our pockets

and startling cool water on our toes.

I learned about undertow.


out to sea.


I sometimes wonder,

if I were left there.

If her body hadn’t lifted us from the seaweed and salt

in under a minute,

maternal fears and guilt dripping from her hands like the water around us.

What if my life had ended, there?

For now I know

that the Undertow is all around me.

That my earliest memory

was a window into my future

on this planet.


I felt the Undertow again

when Sandy brought waves to the end of my road,

her wind tearing down the playground at the park,

turning the still bay into a rapid rush of revenge.

We did this. How can we begin to forgive? How can we begin to rebuild?

In many ways I’m the problem

But in more I’m a solution.

Sandy’s waves will always be smaller than our own.


If my home is drowning now,

Will I ever be able to take my children to its shores?

We all have to learn about the Undertow

in some way.

We all have to be prepared

for the future we’ve been dealt.


In my earliest memory

we didn’t drown.

In my earliest memory

Mom and I rose about the water,

shocked but joyful,


Our fingers intertwined through it all.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Our world


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