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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 4, December 2013

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Carol Judkins
Carlsbad, California, USA


Gifting

For relationships, too, must be like islands. One must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits—islands surrounded and interrupted by the sea, continuously visited and abandoned by the tides. One must accept the serenity of the winged life, of ebb and flow, of intermittency.

                                                         —Anne Morrow Lindbergh

She hands him a brown paper bag, tied at the top with a sky-blue bow. Inside, a seashell from her collection. Their eyes mirror each other—this sailor man, his first born little girl.

mostly sunny,
chance of rain . . .
on my beach,
spirals on seashells,
the moon in phases

A few years later, her sisters and brother are at the table, ready to celebrate. Everyone is hungry, but she begs her mother to wait a little longer. Fingers drum the table to nervous chatter; she counts and recounts the twelve candles on her cake. Her eyes fill with tears as they sing before the cake is cut. After school the next day, her father finds her in her room; from his hands to hers, a brightly wrapped package. Excited, she rips off the paper. Her fingers slowly trace the book title, A Gift from the Sea—and the inscription: with Love, Dad.

low tide
on a deserted beach . . .
sea glass
pierces the seams
of shadows

Older now, she cannot avoid seeing the broken shells on her beach. She sifts through photographs her father has sent her. Standing on a beach in the South Pacific; fishing on the edge of a lake. The pull of the tides. A picture of the two of them on her wedding day, standing in the vestibule of the church, arm in arm. Years later, he is ill, and knows that he is dying. It is her birthday. For the last time, he extends a package—a small, ocean-blue velvet box. Inside, a pair of earrings. On each stud, small luminous white pearls, set in silver.

the labour
of specks of sand in shells
. . . perfect gems
forged in the depths
of the sea

semaphore flags,
a seaman’s knot . . .
now I see
gifts from my father
were metaphors

pulling the weeds
that creep over his headstone . . .
even now,
I try too hard
to please him

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