Ruth on beach
Safety
by Ruth Bavetta

My grandmother would tie a rope
around my waist so I wouldn’t drown
in the green-fringed swells
that murmured and gurgled around the rocks.

She stood on dry sand, marooned
with her crutches, giving me freedom
with the one hand, safety with the other.
I floated naked in the water, sloshing
to and fro in the rhythm of the sea.

The waters spoke to me
when I was a measure only partly filled.
They called to me and sang
and I didn’t need to understand,
because I knew.

Here, in the inland garden,
I do not hear that song. Here,
I am dry and speechless, left
to stumble in the garments of experience
where no line leads to understanding.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo is from about 1938. Laguna was quiet and beautiful then.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was a kid, my grandmother had a cottage almost on the sand at Laguna Beach. She was crippled by arthritis and couldn’t have run into the water to save me, so she did what she could.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Bavetta is an artist and poet whose poems have been published in Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American Review, Spillway, and Poetry New Zealand, and many others. Her work is included in four anthologies. She has published three books, Flour Water Salt (FutureCycle Press) Embers on the Stairs (Moontide Press) and Fugitive Pigments (FutureCycle Press.). She loves the light on November afternoons, the smell of the ocean, a warm back to curl against in bed. She hates pretense, fundamentalism, and sauerkraut.