Thursday, April 30, 2009

NaPoWriMo #27: grayland

I've been out of town since Sunday night (more on that in some future post), and during the first few days of the trip I was down in Grayland, one of my favorite places ever. I thought about writing while I was there, but I was enjoying myself and relaxing and wrangling kids at the beach too much to make time for writing poetry. And I had no internet access, so there was really no pressure to write something I could post. Which is just what I needed, because then I could let the creative juices percolate for a few days.

Going to Grayland

I’ve got two little ones
strapped in the back seat
and it’s me alone up front
a day trip to my roots
with an option to stay awhile
towns like bright beads
on a gray silk string
Ellensburg on one end
Seattle somewhere in the middle
Tukwila, Tacoma, Dupont
(my original hometown
according to my birth certificate)
Olympia, Tumwater, Elma
Satsop, Aberdeen, Westport,
Grayland tying off the strand

my hands relax on the wheel
my eye catches the glitter of sun
playing off two diamonds on my left hand
two wedding rings nestle
next to each other on my ring finger
two Christmases ago my mother
gave me nana’s ring, said
keep it three years then pass it on
to one of your sisters
you choose which one
it was on purpose I brought it with me
on this trip to the home
where my nana came as a new bride

she was a Boston girl
a lady
with wit, sense and style
a trim Navy nurse with soft brown curls
blue eyes that laughed, cried
and smiled all at the same time
she told stories about the war
all the nurses living in Quonset huts
near the base hospital on Oahu
and lowering her voice
as if someone might overhear about
other nurses getting discharged
for fraternizing with married officers
which is why when a young officer
asked her to dinner
she looked up his next of kin first
then graciously accepted
the invitation of the son
of the Reverend Clark Cottrell
of Grayland, Washington

could she have known then
what it would mean
that he would bring her home
down miles of narrow roads winding
through interminable green and gray
moss-grown spruce and fir and pine
across one-lane bridges
that arched over tidal flats
then down Highway 105
through the shorter coastal forest
dotted on each side with small, scattered houses
turning onto the final stretch of Gould Road
that he would bring her home
to Reverend and Mrs. Cottrell
to cranberry bogs, skunk cabbage, windswept dunes
to no running water and
all her favorite shoes spoiled with mold?

I looked at her ring
then looked at mine
thinking of my husband
bringing me home to his parents
to a windswept valley
fertile but still browner and drier
than the lush green of my childhood home
bringing me to live
in a single-wide trailer
with running water and a toilet
but no shower

and now driving through the familiar green
that became her home
and once was mine I realize
we don’t choose the landscapes of our love
but only who takes us there.


helgaruth said...

This is so beautifyl - thank you.

chckkysmile said...

Wow, the tears just keep coming.
Thank you.

Sieler Family said...

Wow Katie that was incredible --
I usually just sneak on and read and enjoy but I want to thank you for that beautiful poem!
have a grand day-