The Sea Question by Elizabeth Smither
How am I to go on, I ask myself as I try to force myself out of bed. I ask this at five in the morning. At six. At seven. All the way to eleven.
How do I go home, I scream in frustration, but only inside my head, as I stand in forty-degree heat, with no tree in sight. The traffic and the afternoon sun make the distance shimmer, and I started walking. On and on and on the side of the road, until I turned a corner.
How do I get up, I think for the nth time, as I found myself lying on my back. I fell. I had a massive headache and then I jolted awake, and I was staring up the ceiling. I lost a few seconds, give or take. I should rest, but the night is long.
The Sea Question
The sea asks “How is your life now?”
It does so obliquely, changing colour.
It is never the same on any two visits.
It is never the same in any particular
Only in generalities: tide and such matters
Wave height and suction, pebbles that rattle.
It doesn’t presume to wear a white coat
But it questions you like a psychologist
As you walk beside it on its long couch.