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February 2015

#FridayPoetry: Surf Song

Feb 6, 2015

Surf Song

The Air Force stationed her father
in Shemya, a lone island,
grit between links in the Aleutian chain.

Seventy-mile-per-hour fog
blasted his barracks.
Dark surf
squelched onyx pebbles.

He couldn’t reach her
from so far away.

At the airport in Anchorage,
he buys a conch shell.
Tells her it’s from the beach in Shemya.

She presses it to her ear
straining to hear Alaska.
Pretending just for him,
she says she hears waves crashing.

Years later, she finds online
an audio clip of Shemya’s surf.
A mournful, far away song
that could never inhabit her shell.

She dives the Florida Straits
where conchs scurry
across white sand sea floor.
Her father’s lie,
smaller than a sea snail
tucked into its shell.

Not until she’s in Alaska
does she find Shemya on a map.

She flies there
holds the island in her palms
listens to the surf song
for herself.