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Jill Ruscoll

Sapphire Ocean


I try not to think about the sapphire ocean 

surrounding our tiny island 

where we stood on the beach

listening to the smooth rocks softly knocking together

as the waves lured them back to the sea


Where the small shops with their nautical
orange, cyan, and teal wooden signs invited us in

to ooh and aah over useless objects 

Where we purchased our prizes with smiling faces

peeking into our bags for another look


Where we walked rutted dirt roads filled with promise

and an ocean filling our blue eyes

Where growling dogs befriended us

content with our company until they crossed 

an invisible line that called them home


Where we took rides at dusk on our salt-rusted bikes 

squeaking with each push of the pedal

racing the fading light for one more look 

at the grass meadows flowing like hair in the wind 

at the silent cows, hushed ponds, and the vastness of the sea


Where we saw the full moon from our room 

rising like hope over the marsh

and over the little zoo across the street 

with its odd assortment of creatures

who were never curious, always bored


I try not to think about you being as far 

as the tiny tugboat on the horizon 

headed north, away from our sweet place

Where we stood barefoot, ankle deep in water
each with a heart, grown in the same womb 

at the same time, so many years ago

mesmerized by the deep rumble of the waves

not noticing how they stole the sand beneath our feet


She drives eight hours south to ride 

her bike along the Delaware River.

Long ago a life here, raised
two boys, loved
them with everything she had.

Tires keep pace with the moving water,

dry air eddies around her
filled with memories so deep

she is in a river of herself.


She rides the dirt path for days,
feels her youth returning


until the last day
when the sun simmers crimson
from the fires in Canada.

Smoke stalks the tender landscape,
erases it farm by farm, takes her lungs, 

suffocates her eyes.

A reckoning of what cannot be undone.

Fields, homes, her bones, brittle,
ready to ignite,
too far from the river.

With little choice she leaves,

maybe for the last time—


she is at that age—

heads north
into the burdened sky.

Jeffrey Alfier Matin_Bleu.jpeg
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