Transformations - Poetry

Zoe FitzGerald: The Long Reach

A poem for Mother’s Day
Posted:  Sunday, May 11, 2014 - 7:15am

My hand used to be there,
under his soft belly.
Upheld, he was free to flail and splash,
to flounder and find his way,
learning the how-to and the why-not.
Free to terrorize himself, and me,
while it was all still fun,
the learning, and the watching.

It's terrible, the letting go.
They swallow the sea,
and the sea swallows them,
small and sink-able.

That kind of watching is prayer,
when you can only wait
for them to meet the self
that insists on breath, on life.
The self that will keep them
afloat and moving
in wild, panicked strokes,
until they find a way, up and out.

Now I am ancient mariner mother,
and my boat carries me
further and further away from him;
though I am still shouting instructions,
always instructions.
Now I am a speck on the sand, hand to brow,
watching, and willing him to emerge
rough-tumbled, but whole
and wholly himself.

And he's there,
shadowed by sea mist and distance
but standing,
and shaking himself free
of birth-waters and befuddlement,
slipping out of boy-skin
and into himself.

Some kindness in him gives instruction now.
Some grace from the past
turns his gaze backward
for a moment's search ,
and a sighting,
of something great
and imperfect
waving him on, waving goodbye.

I wonder, does he hear my cry,
mingling with that of the gulls,
raw and raucous,
the way joy can be sometimes?

Or has the wind swallowed it
and made it one with the sound of the sea,
the music of memory,
familiar and unceasing?

Zoe FitzGeraldZoe FitzGerald lives and writes in her new home in Appleton. She is currently working on her first book of poems.




We tell stories.
We tell stories to make sense of our lives.
We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.
We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.

Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories are about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.
— Kathrin Seitz, editor, and Cheryl Durbas, co-editor

"Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." — Henry Miller

Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at Cheryl Durbas is a freelance personal assistant in the Midcoast area. She can be reached at