Marie Harris

Following Sea

Not that the chrome-blue, white-lipped waves don’t overtake, it’s that they don’t
overwhelm. Hard to believe when you’re out there, fighting the tiller, watching out for the


One by one each swell builds behind the straining dinghy and, as if to move on to the
larger task, lifts it like a drifting plastic milk jug and passes under, bearing down on our
stern now, encouraged by a stiff southwest breeze, overtakes, shoves our little sailboat
this way, that way, moves on.


Because I am afraid, my senses are all I know. Deafening wind in my ears. Mainsheet
chafing palm. Leg muscles tuned to this tango. I see the world as it is, all at once: storm
petrels and shearwaters, pitching horizon, buoys, calligraphies of clouds, boats passing.
And, peripherally… What did you say? Turn toward me so I can see your voice.


The very repetition of waves reduces fear to acceptance, then monotony. By
Portland Head, swell has lost to tide and current, persists as a string of watery
nudges: the past, the past, the past, taking forever to catch up. And move on.

Marie Harris
“Following Sea” first appeared in Rivendell, Issue 2. Vol 1.