Lullaby for the Woman Who Walks into the Sea
Poem beginning and ending with halves of a line by Ilhan Berk
Take your nakedness to the sea
and lie down at the tide line while the tide is still out.
Lie down at the wrack-ridge where sand pipers skitter
over dried seaweed, your whole body exposed that way,
your whole spirit exposed as you lie waiting.
With your whole spirit exposed as you lie waiting,
remember all that has passed that led to this place.
Remember the tall fields of childhood—
how you nested in the small circumferences your body
hollowed out in hip-high grasses, how the sun filled
the circle of sky you could see from that perspective.
Only the circle of sky you could see from that perspective
was contained enough to blanket you with its comfort.
Sometimes small quick swallows transected the wholeness,
their flights, diameters. Beneath you, the shaken universe
of the insects went on without your knowing. Out of your own
shaken world, Orphan, you had escaped to lie there
as in this shaken world you have escaped to lie here
naked and waiting at the perimeter of the sea,
for the tide that will, in only hours it seems,
return and wash over you, its watery brine a balm
on your face, its foam spreading under you,
lifting you like the mother you lost, her arms extended.
As it lifts you like a lost mother, your arms extended,
you will become a raft, bones rope-bound, wood buoyant,
and give in to the back and forth rolling of your own heartbeat
which keeps its watch over your body, which will become the sea,
which is, even now, beginning to be washed out, washed
into the waves and long sweep of wild waters.
Into the waves and the long sweep of wild waters,
you bequeath your grief, the many griefs that have entered your cells
and left their mark, the way algae clogging a pond surface
with its heavy green layer hides clear water. You bequeath the days
when your heart was a carousel of rise and fall.
You bequeath the reins. You let all you meant to control go.
The world you wanted to control and could not—you let it go
into the distances, into long sweep of wild waters.
You wait to be lifted by waves, mother-lightly, your arms extended,
away from the shaken world, Orphan, you have been wanting to escape,
all the sky you can see from that wide perspective will fall into the sea,
your whole spirit exposed as you lie here at tide line waiting—
willing your nakedness to the darkening inswell of water.
~ Patricia Fargnoli
Music by Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch, “Lua” (lyrics)