THE LAND BETWEEN THE TIDES, a poem by John Sovereign

John Sovereign, a Western Flyer Foundation volunteer, shares his poem about exploring tidepools as a youth. He continues to find inspiration in and around the ocean, especially Monterey Bay.

the land between the tides

by John Sovereign

… the impulse which drives a man to poetry will drive another man into the tide pools and …. report what he finds there.

John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez 

“she’ll be below mean lower low water”, Dad would say
I’d rub dreams of slingshots and snakes from latchlidded eyes
and pull my pants on quick in the predawn air
with a flat knife and Mom’s washpail
I’d be ready to visit the land between the tides 

the sky at our backs would be red like my eyes
as we passed divers donning their nightblack pelts
the crashing surf at Wolfs’ point would call us
as soon as the cranky ‘67 Fiat choked to a stop 

we’d all scramble down the escapement
a tonguewagging Sam in tow
limpets like pimples on the surrounding stone
waving sea palms would greet us from the shaving cream foam

the watercarved stones lined with fluorescent redpurple sponge
and bright yellow banana slugs oblivious
hairy stubbled chitons would attract us
Sam would stalk clacking claws in backcracks 

pearlgreen tentacle anemones would bathtubdrainsuck our thumbs
while we’d watch mussels and barnacles sifting for breakfast

as the sun rose higher in the morning sky
my sneakers squished from close calls with the rising tide
“never turn your back on the sea, son”
we’d leave purplespined urchins, screaming gulls and hermit crabs fighting for a new home
back in our beds the barks of sea lions lulled us to an oceandeep sleep

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