©Page Hersey, 2014

©Page Hersey, 2014


Ebb tide this morning leaves a hardpacked, cleanswept

beach, dark gray and good for walking as wet tarmac,

indistinguishable from the beach I walked at sunset yesterday —

though all night long the sea’s been busy as a catfish rearranging

sand, sucking out and tossing back in endless turbulence,

indifferent to the drama of a single grain.


Feeling frail and mortal these past weeks, helpless

To stop or even slow the dissolution of ties, the decay of

cells, the diminishment of senses, I watch the


Surfers, lithe, intrepid, in svelte black wetsuits,

bob and rise and dunk, intentional and         impotent as commas against

the surging surf that answers to a grammar they cannot parse but yearn

to dance to –

let it carry them, play them, grant them an illusion of mastery –

ride it out, see it through


It is enough

to come out, winded and whole, blood pounding in the head,

sinews taut and tingling with urgent use,

fatigue draining away all stories, leaving the mind

a cleanswept beach


I bless them, and stoop to scoop a divot of wet sand thrown

by a large-footed dog running full-out for the hell of it.


©Catharine Lucas, 2014

Catharine Lucas, a professor of English, emeritus, at San Francisco State University and BAWP Teacher Consultant, has taught undergraduate writers, graduates in composition studies, and teachers of writing for many years. A frequent presence at Asilomar Writer Retreats, she is now trying to teach herself to submit pieces for publication. This is a start!

One Response to “Ebb Tide by Catharine Lucas”

  1. Elizabeth Balderston Says:

    How full of familiar and yet new images this poem is! I can feel my feet wet in the hard shore sand and see the swimmers “like commas” in the ocean. Bravo, Catherine “Born to write”

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