In My Ohio

​On What the Ocean Told Me

Darren C. Demaree
​By noon of the last day of vacation I had spent most of my time fighting and losing to the ocean waves. I was exhausted from the battle, from many long bike rides, and from eating all of the seafood Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach had to offer. So, for the only time I was still and quiet on the trip, I sat down on the beach, a whisper’s distance from the surf, and talked out loud for a while.
I didn’t address the ocean directly, that would give it a name, a quality too close to human, and what I wanted to discuss were very human things with something that would have zero human responses.
I wanted, as we all do from time to time, to say some things out loud that I had been thinking about for a while. Whether those small, desirous sentences aren’t spoken during routine because they would be deemed to ecstatic, or we feel guilty for thinking past our own realities, I do not know. I do know that I was tired enough to take a long nap, but my mind had found that time and place to slide around big thoughts.
I talked about my children, how wonderful they had been on the trip, and grown up they were both acting. Belle (almost six years old) had been swimming without the aid of floaties. Thomas (almost three years old) had used such fine manners, and was being so sweet with everyone.  They were always beautiful children, but they had most recently developed at an outrageous pace. They are headed to Kindergarten and preschool respectively in August/September, but I was already proud of them. They are sweet and excited children, and I wanted to talk about that. I wanted to ask out loud what I could do to help them even more? How could I open myself up more than I had to help them grow? How can I keep them this happy as the small pressures of their world develop their own weight?
I talked about my wife, how we were about to come up to our eighth anniversary, and how lovely and strong she had been during those eight years. I already had her anniversary gift for her, and was charmed enough by her during our trip that I gave it to her eleven days early. I thought about the little things that I could do better for her. How could I be more careful with my actions? How could I find new and good ways to surprise her? How could I make sure she knows how beautiful of a woman she is without it feeling like I am repeating myself in some rehearsed pattern?
I talked about myself and my writing. I have five books of poetry picked up so far, and I have five books of poetry finished that have no home yet. That’s a lot of poetry. What could I try next to challenge myself? How can I push and pull and fragment my voice to make it new and interesting? What new ideas/subject should I explore? How can I best drive myself towards those goals? Should I change my ever-driving technique, and try to become more playful with the poems?
I said all of these things, and the ocean said nothing back to me. It kept being the ocean. However, I had continued to increase my volume with each question, and at a certain point there was a small echo of my voice. The ocean never tells you anything, but it gives you an infinite amount of room to fill. While the people that walked around me did crane their necks a bit, I like to believe that they were doing that because for a little while I was bigger than my body. I was beginning to fill the room the ocean had given me, and since there was no new information for me to parse I was left to deal only with what I had. I had two incredible children, an epic wife, and an elaborate and lithe mind that gave me joy with each exercise of it. I was me and confirmed to be me, and that enough is more than enough.