I grew up on high ground but close enough to Long Island Sound to ride my bike to the beach for a swim or a ride around Tod’s Point in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. I learned to swim in salt water and, like Proust’s madeleines, whenever I get a whiff of it, I am carried back to childhood.
Now, married and a mother, I live a good distance from the shore, but every now and then, when the wind is right, I can smell the sea air. Whether or not it is truly salt spray from the Sound or merely a sense memory, the effect is no less powerful. So powerful, I was moved to scribble a few lines and ended up with this sonnet.
To the Sound
Night rolls up the house. Through windows, wet sheets
are tossed back, damp shadows swell, and the few
dry spots are slowly covered. On the street,
dark waves skid along dark sand. Facing due
east, a distant fan of sea spray forms and
dries on the wind. Most of those days at Tod’s
I chose high ground, a sturdy arm of land
away from everything, somewhat at odds,
I suppose, with the rest. I love the Sound—
the cold green, Long Island’s comforting stretch,
the gulls complaining as they wheel around
the white caps—leaving bits of salt that touch
the air and sky and clouds above the surf,
and inland, sometimes, trees and hills and earth.