Ocean wakes

By Timothy Gillis


I wake up early to check on the ocean.

After another night of teaching dreams,

I wake early to check on the shore,

make sure she is still there

after a year of removable news.

In my inbox is a poem from an old friend who

still persists in sending them to me,

even though I never reply in kind.

As with all the others, I’m moved to try but

this time I really do. Letters continue to fail me,

but I email him back anyway, to thank

him for the intentions.


I go outside, ahead of Wyatt to check for skunks,

then let the dog out to join me.

The moon is still up, a fingernail with clear sights

on the rest of her phases.

The sun is rising and gives me a dual perspective of

dark and light, night in its unceasing tussle

with day’s break.


Coffee and the day’s first cigarette do their usual business,

rousing in me some kind of buzz, some kind of human hum

against the machinery.

Wyatt sniffs last night’s proceedings,

carousing the ground at our new home, then

raises his snout to the moon

and whatever’s in the air that only a dog can know.

Looks to the ocean to ask if we’re going.


We will, I tell him, when mum’s awake

and can join us. I consider the double impact of

two competing celestial bodies, usually

unaware of each other but now occupying the same horizon.


I sip and smoke and say good morning to my dad,

tell him I have always believed in him, tell him that

I still do now, even years after I cannot see him anymore,

tell myself to believe in myself, believe in the possibility

that two conflicting emotions can coexist,

that it’s okay to doubt and still don the

morning cap of capable, the fingerless gloves that let me smoke and write

and still stay warm, find the letters that come together in this poem,

rusty and out-of-shape but still in key.

Tell myself that, for now, that’s more than enough.


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