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After the Tide Went Still

Updated: Apr 16, 2023


After the Tide Went Still

For my friend Sheila Collie Spencer, 1963-2023


I thought I was done writing

about grief, grateful for this bountiful

warm spring in the Low Country, good

place to sink my feet in the pluff mud


of sorrow without sorrow sinking

me altogether, writing and biking

through salt marshes of bereavement

unbereaved, that all too familiar, unfamiliar


respite found writing into shadows

on sunny afternoons, pedaling under

swaying Spanish moss, a confusion

of salty sweat dripping off my brow,


ready to write something to make me

laugh at myself, my assumptions about,

well, everything, already taking notes

for a breezy piece about strangers saying


I look like Larry David, all my kids snickering

at that laughable blow to my vanity when

the spinning earth suddenly clanked to a halt,

the sun trapped behind a cloud, tide stilled,


car stalled crossing the trail, a toddler’s

ice cream cone tilting in the gaping suspension

of what we know we know until I heard

the rusted gears groaning, the world squealing


back into orbit, but I was already somewhere else,

gulls cawing, bright sun making me squint, ice cream

splattering on concrete, the little girl wailing, all

behind me as I drop the bike in the grass and sit


under a live oak, chest rising, chest falling, nothing

but alive in the knowledge that whatever anguish

comes this way, there is no comfort, no explanation,

no platitude worth its salt now burning my eyes.


—SL, Port Royal, SC/Hatteras Island, NC, April 2023

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9 Comments


band
May 15, 2023

" ... nothing

but alive in the knowledge that whatever anguish

comes this way, there is no comfort, no explanation,

no platitude worth its salt now burning my eyes." Amen!

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marilyn.bardo
Apr 25, 2023

You so beautifully express emotions that are difficult to communicate. But with all the sadness and grief eventually life - amazingly - goes on. As Dylan Thomas wrote:

"And Death Shall Have No Dominion"

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write4hire
Apr 25, 2023
Replying to

"Though lovers be lost love shall not ..."

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skiwaves
Apr 17, 2023

I was awestruck with the crowd at Sheila's celebration of life. It was more evident than ever, how many lives she impacted. It seems when someone you care about is gone, the perspective of them is deeper and more complete. Her legacy is in her son and daughter's lives. They have turned out to be amazing... just like Sheila.

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write4hire
Apr 17, 2023
Replying to

Me too ... completely awestruck. Among other things it reminded me that legacy comes through the endless ways we might have made an impact on others, not just through biology but also art, music, writing, bravery, kindness, on and on.

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margarita meyendorff
margarita meyendorff
Apr 16, 2023

So profound - that one millimeter of a second when the world seems to stop but really doesn't for anything, not even the worst grief. Beautiful writing. Mourka

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write4hire
Apr 16, 2023
Replying to

🙏🏼

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edwillmatt
Apr 15, 2023

The heart that pulses in the man beneath that tree is the heart of a poet. This beautiful expression of grief and confusion resonates especially because I just cleared the hurdle of 59.

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write4hire
Apr 15, 2023
Replying to

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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