Melissa Stein is the author of the poetry collections Terrible blooms (Copper Canyon Press) and Rough Honey, winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, Harvard Review, New England Review, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, and others, and she’s received awards and fellowships from the NEA, Pushcart Prize, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She is a freelance editor in San Francisco.
Close your eyes on that startled
vision: fishing line strung taut
by the waves’ tall pressure: cold sugar
of a fish’s mouth clamping the bait’s steel
surprise. Hold fast against the tide, its spray
finer than pleasure against your sun-
ruddy face. Understand there’s nowhere
to go. I mean you have nowhere
you must go. What we trust is the sound
of the sea, its chill shock, our faith
in its change. Rolling together and under
and up and apart and on to the next
body. This is the pacific.
Melissa Stein, “Baker Beach.” Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.