Summer Poem for a Sailor

By Ruth Foley

for Kristin

It’s best to close your eyes, but not before
you’ve thought about the ocean you knew first.
Your world can be that ocean—nothing more. 

Forget the dead, the lost.  Forget the war,
the January salt crust on the hearse.
It’s best to close your eyes, but not before

the sparkling crystals dry inside your pores.
Remember Lot’s wife.  Look back, and you’re cursed.
Your world can be that ocean—nothing more

and nothing less.  No messy wounds, no gore,
no uniforms, no purple hearts, no nurse. 
It’s best to close your eyes, but not before

you smell the summer salt that curls to shore,
the scent that rakes your throat and tastes like thirst.
Your world can be that ocean—nothing more.

As you sink slowly to the ocean floor,
release your breath, release the bad, the worse.
It’s best to close your eyes, but not before
your world becomes that ocean—nothing more.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 9

Ruth Foley is an accomplished poet, holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine, and currently teaches at Wheaton College. She is the invaluable Associate Poetry Editor at Cider Press Review.

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