To see and know a place is a contemplative act.

                         —Gretel Ehrlich 

 

Tide

The earth was forcing me to not forget her.

—Jim Harrison

My father believed the bedrock beneath our ranch—

     once an immense sea—

was still alive, that natural rhythms persisted

     in its sluggish consolidation.

He taught me to listen for echoes of breaking surf,

     but I couldn’t hear them—

even at night with the wind quiet and my ear pressed

     to an outcropping.

He believed the gravitational pull of a full perigee

     moon could still move

the old limestone. He called it land tide. I thought

     that, too, improbable,

until one night the moon rose so full of light we could

     have counted the calves

in our pasture. Then, when its bottom edge caught

     the crest of a hill,

and just as I felt the prairie lift and inch sideways

     beneath my feet,

he said, There. That’s it.


I have never recovered from that night, or the weight

     of his hand on my shoulder.