Writing Down the Waves


I started writing down the waves

Because of the first girl I knew I loved

She had mentioned sonnets to me

just an hour before


My parents always took the coast route

instead of the interstate bypass

Which annoyed me every day before this one

But that day Shelley saw Petrarch’s Cleaners’

On a fading cursive painted sign


She began to tell me about the Petrarchan sonnets

she’d learned about in school

Since Shelley was a year older

and two grades above mine

It happened pretty often that she became

the way I tumbled

Into some new mystery

secret piece of information


This time seemed different though

As she began singing out the lines that she remembered

from the poem sharing my new discovery

like she hoped the wind would carry her voice

From Maryland’s craggy coast to Petrarch’s grave


I sat amazed and open hearted

Stunned that this lovely girl could exult

so much in this poem

Never noticing the grinding seat belt

across her ribs


When an hour later

Dad finally stopped to get snacks for us

Shelley and I huddled under the blanket


Both trying to pretend

That we weren’t dying to kiss one another

So to break the silence

I asked her

To sing the poem again



© Gayle Force Press 2002





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