"For me, the reason why people go to...the edge of the ocean is to look at something larger than themselves. That feeling of awe, of going to a cathedral...." Diane Paulus
When I was in grade school and first learned about the Great Lakes, I recall my parents saying the lakes are so big, that if you stood on their shores, you would think you were at the ocean because you cannot see the other side. Being a skeptic even then, I had my doubts.
Those doubts were put to rest when I moved to Northwest Michigan and into a house by the lake. Lake Michigan is enormous. You really cannot see the other side. In fact, standing on the shore, looking over the expanse of water, you can believe quite easily that you are at the ocean for many reasons, not only its size.
There are beaches, just like the ocean. There are myriad shades of blue and green, just like the ocean. There are fish, jellyfish, crustaceans, and seahorses, just like the ocean (well, pseudo-seahorses called pipefish, but still…). And, there are waves, just like the ocean. Wind-born white caps whip up the surface creating continuous sets of waves which run up the sand, just like the ocean. In fact, if the wind is high, there are huge waves, which sink ships, and crash into seawalls, just like the ocean.
I find it all very majestic. Today’s poem is a bit about that.
This placid surface
this gently rolling blue
this magnificent Great Lake,
the very heart of Michigan,
belies the angry splendor
gusts of wind can birth
’neath roiling clouds of black
churning benign fresh-water swells
from ripples into rising walls
crashing as though possessed
by demons of the sea
creating chaos in
this shelter for dependent creatures
trusting this protective haven
but thrown asunder by forces
they cannot understand.