My earliest memory of the ocean is the salt smell. My family lived in New Orleans, and we took a short vacation to Biloxi, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. What I remember is walking in wet sand, my mother holding my three-year-old hand attached to my three-year-old self, listening to the white birds overhead, and smelling salt. The water was green, stretching forever into the distance. The ocean was an event, an experience, and a painting.
Later I would come experience the ocean as a playground, a place to investigate in the shallows, a source of shells and fish and strange creatures like jellyfish better avoided. Once, when I was 17 and right out of high school, the Atlantic served as a kind of bedroom, as friends and I slept the night on a beach near Cape Kennedy in Florida. Much later, traveling to Europe or Hawaii, the ocean became flyover territory, something to get across to reach a destination.
Reading the 21 poems of Jen Karetnick’s new collection The Crossing Over is to find all of these metaphors of the ocean and more.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.