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Drifting toward Maui
by Carolyn Martin

The guide was clear –
at 1 p.m. determined tides
pull Hapuna waves off-shore.
But I forgot the time.
Forgot my fins.
Forgot you dozing
in the shade
when dreams to swim
toward reefs I’d never seen
pulled me from my sleep.

Later, you would say
an orange bird worried you
awake and flew your eyes
along the sea-sky line.

You’d say you didn’t feel
the burning sand or see
the turtle art tattooed
around the lifeguard’s arms
or understand his too-calm scan
of the headland’s curve.

You’d say you had to beg,
She’s sixty and alone,
before he’d abdicate
his throne and slash
his board into the surf.

While I — already grown afraid
of missing anything I’ve yet to see —
was oblivious to tides,
adrift with angels, tangs,
and butterflies,
almost out of reach.

SOURCE: Previously published in Carolyn Martin, Finding Compass (Portland, Oregon: Queen of Wands Press, 2011).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I found this orange bird on a Maui beach years later. I like to think it was the same one in my poem.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Snorkeling on Hapuna Beach on the Big Island years ago, I ignored the guidebook and was pulled out to sea. Luckily, a friend, sleeping on shore, was literally awakened by an orange bird and started to look for me. When she saw I was way out beyond the cliffs, she ran to the lifeguard who needed some persuading to paddle out to rescue me. Needless to say, I now pay more attention to what the experts say about local conditions.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, where she gardens, writes, and plays. Her poems have appeared in publications throughout the USA and UK and her second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released by The Poetry Box in 2015. She travels as an excuse to write poems.