Children of the Sea: For Courtney

By Sarah E. Murphy

As small, suburban flowers

we were replanted

in more nourishing, salty soil

and the ocean soon became

the backdrop of our lives.

It roared to us on ghostly winter nights

while we burrowed in tiny beds

assuring us we’d soon return.

And so we did.

For at the close of each school year

our sandals found their way to water’s edge

dreading the red swimsuits

and noses greased with sunblock warpaint. 

Instead we prayed for rainy days

too stormy to practice the crawl

so we could revel in the warmth

of off-season sweats

huddled around the Pentas’ TV

watching Ghostbusters and Meatballs 

on a rented VCR from Zoom Video.

And now the sea 

which always joined us 

divides us

as you embark on a semester 

in our ancestral land.

On your last night

while packing

your relinquished your sandals

knowing you wouldn’t be needing them for awhile

so now I’m literally walking around in your shoes. 

I only hope you return as promised 

to collect them

for you’ve always followed your own lead

going left when Mom would say right

a cat always landing on all fours.

You who grew up before I could blink

suddenly singing effortlessly 

for strangers 

while I, the stage mother

stood on the sidelines

clapping louder than anyone. 

Come home to us, baby sister.

You must be missing your shoes. 

Sarah E. Murphy/December 1996

Picking up Courtney at Logan Airport after her semester in Maynooth, December 1996.

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