Poems & Essays

15 Oct

Ask and Embla

Toddlers to Teens No Response

According to Norse mythology the first humans were formed out of two pieces of driftwood.

Fifteen years ago, you pleaded for it—
this simple piece of driftwood art
sold by a neo-hippie rastaman peddling
out of the back of his van at Talland beach.

After a long day of swimming
while your mother brushed sand from your feet,
your blanket, your hair (sand was everywhere,
and maybe a speck or two still
made you squinty in the sunset),
it was the kind of thing any child would marvel at.
In the fading light, it really did look like a dove.

You’ve moved it from your childhood bedroom
to a dorm-room to the kitchen in your first flat.
Now it hangs over the changing table in the nursery.

This summer, you take your children, five and two,
to make their first sand-castles.
On blocks you see a familiar VW bus—Can it be?
The artist, a drifter who never drifted,
drinks a latte while he notes a sale on his laptop.
His beard still looks like tidewrack,
but his head has washed smooth,
like the back of the driftwood turtle
your daughter now cradles.

 

 

 

Karen Head (@poetphd) is the author of Sassing (WordTech Press, 2009), My Paris Year (All Nations Press, 2008) and Shadow Boxes (All Nations Press, 2003). Along with three colleagues, she recently published an anthology of occasional verse, On Occasion: Four Poets, One Year (Poetry Atlanta Press, 2014). Her poetry appears in a number of national and international journals and anthologies. She was the winner of the 2011 Oxford International Women’s Festival Poetry Prize. She teaches at Georgia Tech, serves on the Poetry Atlanta Board, and is Editor of the Atlanta Review.

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