Here on This Ridge

December 31, 2016 § 4 Comments

Swinging next to Ronnie's wharf on Hurricane Ridge            (Photograph by Martha Andrews Donovan)
Swinging next to Ronnie’s Wharf on Hurricane Ridge

Here on This Ridge

Children with sparklers illumine the night, a dozen
children with a dozen sparklers racing in circles
around the old well boarded up like a swimming
float in the middle of the field. They spin and careen,
a crazy constellation of legs and laughter and shooting
stars, tiny sparks rising behind them into the dark. We

watch them and remember our own days here on this ridge –
lying with our backs to the solid earth, eyes seeking the shooting
stars that our own parents promised would come, or learning
to dance for the first time at the Fourth of July street dance
in front of Highway Market Number 2, here at the end of this spit
of land, hardly a highway at all this dirt road that tumbled

into the ocean and upon which we danced, or jumping off
Ronnie’s dock at midnight under a full moon shimmering
its light onto the surface of the sea and feeling the coldness
of that water not as something to be feared but as simply
a feeling, a sensation like hunger or sleepiness or maybe
even love. On this July night, we watch our own children

for whom the night holds no fear. There has been no catastrophe
as the news had cautioned, no planes plunging to earth, no
children falling down empty wells, no children drowning in the sea,
no broken legs, no broken hearts, just children running around
like wild children of the forest bearing flowers as gifts for us
for whom even a simple sound has become suspect.

Martha Andrews Donovan

Publication note: “Here on This Ridge” was awarded First Place in the Poetry Society of New Hampshire National Contest for November 2011 and was published in Poets’ Touchstone that year.

The first draft of this poem was written in the summer of 2002 when so many of us – after September 11, 2001 – felt shattered and uncertain. As we enter 2017 – another time of great uncertainty – I hope, perhaps naively but certainly fervently, that we may all find moments of beauty, these unexpected gifts that sometimes appear and surprise us.

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