Wrightsville Beach: Observation Lesson

By on Sep 1, 2013 in Poetry

Beach with pier and sketchbook

I start with those great lines about the rose:
               “but where
               save in the poem
               shall it go
               to suffer no diminution
               of its splendor?”

Well, that’s one way to look at it.
Today’s painful thought —
I write rather than live.
               Words on the page, my vacation journal,
               pictures taped in, the tide table,
                                bits of conversations
                                gathered in stores, a description
                                                 of the pier.
One step removed from life.

The world kaleidoscopes around me.
                Ocean waves, sun, the intermittent
                wind scrubbed with salt,
                               children trying out their world.

Words, I sift words like broken shells,
searching for image, metaphor.
Clean and dense,
               the shark tooth hidden
                                among black shards.

Thrilling rightness
                and rhythm, the word’s shape
                                 in my mouth, on the page.
Yet nothing but black and white. 




Jane Bowman Smith is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and was educated at Case Western Reserve University. She has been writing, thinking about writing, and teaching writing for more than thirty years. She directs the Writing Center and teaches advanced composition at Winthrop University. She has edited two books, Self-Assessment and Development in Writing and The Elephant in the Classroom: Race and Writing. Her poems have been published in Karamu, Snowy Egret and Southern Poetry Review, among other journals


  1. Beautiful poem!

  2. Perfect.