Origin of Sea NettlesOn one of those dark nights so still...

September 15, 1990|By Ellen Kirvin Dudis

Origin of Sea Nettles

On one of those dark nights so still and clear,

the sea was seized with envy of the stars.

Rising mightily from this little sphere

it hurled enormous waves which gaped to see how far

they were from heaven. But somehow, stars fell--

billions of brilliances, of blazing missiles,

plunged down from the darkness to pierce huge swells

with sudden flash, then endless hindsight. Sizzles

turned salt and trailed such stinging bitterness

the sea wept, flooding its shallowest reaches.

''You see,'' wheezed the old flounder, ''self-pity is

envy's flip side. It's a wonder your beaches

don't know,'' he gasped, his belly blinded white,

and on his back the havoc of stars that night.

Ocracoke Ferry

The wake of the Herbert C. Bonner boils

across Hatteras Inlet, flung up

by the boat grinding gorgeous green swells.

The boy, a fat boy, leans back on the rail

and watches the tumbling froth come

to light. Isn't it pretty!? he yells.

No answer. Isn't it pretty!? I smile

and say yes. He looks down at his feet

in yellow rubber flipflops, toenails

white from a week at the beach. This fall

in a classroom he writes: I went on

the Ocracoke Ferry. The seagulls

followed us the whole time. Nobody else

got out of the car. I stood in the back

of the boat where all the water spills

out. It was pretty. Word by word he feels

his way between the pale blue lines. But

where each sentence ends, the gorgeous scrolls

unfurl, the endless plumage of recall

he shares with the Herbert C. Bonner,

and Hatteras Inlet boils.

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