Sarah Gridley


To leave 
the image of scuttling off
intact—it is this dispersion effect you came to
know, and love. Some 
man’s flashlight sweeping over 
and back across the beach. A sanded 
dark centering on those floating, 
pointed stars. You think  

too much my mother says in summer. 
In spring my thinking turns to a garden 
where it runs out partially 
to sunlight and wind.
I think of Abraham and that 
long walk to the mountain, 
his eyes set on the mountain 
for days. I think of a dark 

well protected by a large 
stone, the miracle of 
provision, the bread that started 
down as rain and turned to frost 
and saving dew. A glass 
of water alone is sometimes
sweet as Wisdom. As though
it could ever be afforded by the dry

air and scorched angle 
of a secret sovereign good. 
I was drinking to 
the end of the glass,
a shipwreck 
at bottom, or a ferry
safely landing after days
at sea.

The hatch
door opens. Out comes
an outstretched hurl of wings,
some bright contractions
of scales. Out run the shaken, 
spotted pelts unloading, 
casting water beads 
and smaller 

rainbows where they go 
in sweeping bands of flood-
lights, in shapes besides the leafing
crowns of trees, finding 
a sea tossing its ever 
after inside you. It was a dream I 
had of water. Bottomless as space. 
And back 

on dry land, a tethering give 
and take. As Love is to Wisdom / Wisdom 
is to Love. As ghost crabs instantly 
scatter where flashlights 
stripe the sand, as tides 
are communicants of moon—
as the Spirit moves 
in broad

and sunken daylight I watch 
for but wouldn’t obstruct your semi-
terrestrial hide and seek. It is the dream 
of light at the end of water. At home 
below the surface, 
it is the animal I 
lost sight of to 
remember how to be.



               Let me confess what I know of myself. Let me confess too what I do not know of             
					—Saint Augustine

The many links, 
the weight descending
successively through water 
ran beyond the sensible 
depths of feeling. Rode 
was what snaked from deck 
to bed. Rode, what sailors called 
the length of chain 
forged to absorb a wild 
weather load, spirited enough 
to dampen the force of the ship’s
worst pitching and heeling. 
I saw the waves were always there 
to come over what’s under and newly 
behind them. I felt the anchor as a ponderous 
dart—an art of heading down and digging 
in, of withstood frictions and faithful 
staying put. As the philosopher said in her 
reading of the Saint—Life is always 
either no more or not yet. It helps to remember 
the anchor’s even perdurance, to feel
how symmetrically its iron 
weight is fluked. 
Not everything is made to go 
as directly, entirely, or intentionally 
down. The snake is made to snake. A 
brimstone butterfly is made 
to fly off the wall and out of the 
garden, to blend its wings with green 
and yellow leaves, mimicking even 
the small, brown blotches 
of fungal sporulation. Here the anchor 
snakes off into water, going only 
as far as it can, as far as the 
rode allows. 
The ship anchors with stars. With stars, 
and related shadows. Not everything 
is made in memory’s image. 
Still, the anchor flies
straight down as if knowing how 
it’s made to go. The waves shine over 
its flight. If the end 
is heavy, it’s often beautifully 
hidden. Like the brimstone butterfly 
is hidden as leaves (as leaves 
are somehow 
hidden by their trees).

From the Author: These two poems come at the end of a new manuscript titled Even So. Saint Augustine (Confessions) and Rachel Carson (The Sea Around Us) had put water and memory at play in my mind. Also, I was thinking about Vija Celmins’ “redescriptions” of ocean waves, the old story of Noah, and a webinar I had attended featuring geneticist Paul Nurse discussing his new book, What is Life?: Five Great Ideas in Biology. A brimstone butterfly, he said, is what lit his interest in science.

Sarah Gridley is the author of four books of poetry: Weather Eye Open; Green is the
; Loom; and Insofar. She is in the second year of a master’s in Theological and
Religious Studies at John Carroll University.