Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Love Song to Clayoquot Sound - a poem

Friends,the amazing and talented Shawnacy over at Real Toads, issued me a personal challenge (ack!) to write about the longing for, or absence, or finding  of Home . This is a topic I have lived intensely, so I gave it a shot. You can find the entire challenge, and my response, here,  but I am posting it on this site as well, for my non-Toad friends.

Here is some of Shawnacy's poetically-worded challenge: "It is a feeling of an almost objectless nostalgia so deep and abiding that we cannot express it save through a physical and psychic ache that is as much a sense of loss as it is a response to a call we can almost, but not-quite, hear. It is the swelling of our inmost soul at the moment the sun slips behind the horizon. It is the breath caught in our throat when we are struck at the right moment by a particular progression of guitar chords. These things resonate within us with a profound feeling of Home.

Your challenge: tell me of 'Home'"

Of course, this entire exercise made me wildly homesick.

     *****     *****     *****     *****

Oh, untrammelled coastal beaches
of Clayoquot Sound,
you sang a siren song to me
for years before I journeyed there,
long before I ever saw
the perfection of
your beauty.

Trapped inland, like a beached whale,
I never stopped yearning
for the sight and the sound
and the smell
of your wild shores.
The ache of longing never dimmed,
throbbing like a sore tooth
in the center of my being.
I felt the pull,
I heard your call
that could not be ignored.

Your ley lines
drew me to you
as surely as a murrulet
is drawn to its nest,
a migrant whale
to its feeding ground.

Then, one day, it was Time
to either make the leap
onto your unknown shores,
or set the dream aside.
And I knew I couldn’t live
without a dream.

When I rounded the corner
that first night
at Long Beach,
a huge red fiery orb was going down
behind the hills -
my first sunset.
My heart rose to meet it
like a lover,
just now waking
after far too long a sleep.

I pulled into my cabin on the beach,
stood on the deck and breathed it in:
waves galloping into shore
like white-maned horses,
sun slipping down beneath the sea
like a blessing
on everything beautiful.
In the curving bay,
a small whale surfaced,
to tell me that my lifelong dream
had at last come true.

In that moment, the questing,
seeking voice within
was stilled,
for, at long last,
after such a long journey,
I was Home.

My spirit lifted like a soaring bird
set free from its cage,
joyously riding your air currents,
windsurfing the sky.
I flew higher than
I’d ever flown
there, on your wild shores,
where my spirit
came into its own.

My eyes drank in your beauty
so many misty, fog-shrouded mornings,
Meares Island wreathed in cloud,
tall spires poking through,
or its hillsides blushing rose
late afternoons,
like a matron
surprised at her toilette.

They gazed on
thousand-year-old cedar,
on eagle and  raven,
on herons picky-toeing their way
along the mudflats,
on seabirds wheeling free
over shining waters.

I carry the memory
of seaspray damp against my face,
the smell of seaweed and plankton,
the feel of the packed, wet sand
I remember
the roar of the waves
against the dunes out front,
the crackle of the wood stove,
wind and rain lashing
the winter cabin walls
at midnight,
and the mooing
of the foghorn
at Lennard's Light.

I remember mornings
after the storm had passed,
stepping out onto the beach
to see what wind and water
had drawn upon the shore.

Joy, unparalleled, was mine
those ten glorious,

Is it worse to find and lose Home,
or never to have found it?

When I had to leave,
missing you came
to live inside me
like a second pulse.
Inland, once again,
one hour and another world away
from everything I love,
I am once more Making Do
with so much less
than all of my longing.

But losing is the other side of having,
sorrow the price we pay for joy
and worth the cost.

Now those years live
within my heart. They live,
like the siren song of the sea,
like the cry of the gull,
like the sound of my beloved waves,
forever advancing and retreating
in my heart.

Now the Sound inhabits me,
as once I inhabited the Sound.
Love for your wild beauty never stops
singing inside me.
I carry that song within me
like a gleaming treasure,
like a song of love
whose refrain reminds me
that none of this is ours to keep.
We are all, always,
only passing through.

Sometimes, at dusk, now,
I see faint color
behind the hills
which ring this gray little valley,
that lets me know I am missing
yet another spectacular sunset
at the beach.
On those nights,
my eyes turn toward
the west.
I yearn. I long.
I remember all those sunsets
that once were mine.

As the world turns
from burnished gold,
fading soft to sunset,
and the coloured remnants streak
across the evening sky,
I look to the mountaintops.
Behind them,
on the West Coast,
glorious sunsets are unfolding,
these richly coloured evenings.
On tiptoe,
I can almost
see them shining.

I had already written my Love Song to Clayoquot Sound in prose form some years ago. It was included in the anthology Writing the West Coast: In Love with Place, a topic dear to my heart.

The prose version can be found by clicking on the above link, for anyone interested in reading the story of the amazing midlife journey I took all through the ‘90’s, when I made a huge leap to the home of my spirit, Tofino, B.C. on the wild West Coast of Vancouver Island. You may enjoy the story of my ten years there, through the time of the Peace Camp and the blockades – the most alive, joyous and fulfilling years of my life. I stole some lines from that piece for this poem, because they came straight from my heart and could not be improved upon. I had not thought to write this as a poem before. So thank you, Shawnacy!


  1. Wow Sherry this was so beautiful to read. I've never lived on the beach myself, yet when I go there it is like a coming home of sorts. It always leaves me feeling at peace. You write so eloquently and it is so easy to feel that it all comes from the heart. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I loved every word!!

  2. You will always carry it with you wherever you are, it is within you.
    But, I agree, like yourself I had such a need to be close to water. If I'm not my soul begins to pine.
    You must resolve to get near to water and...soon!

  3. A host of beautiful images, thank you!

  4. Sherry,
    Your words and photos were like a magical symphony! So beautiful and breathtaking~ You did a fabulous job with this prompt! Brilliant~

  5. I commented over at RT, but I will add a short comment here as well: Very beautiful writing, from the deepest of places in your soul!


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!