“Coastlines are where we learn the ocean’s tragedy:
Incessant endeavour, incessant panoply,
Broken down to crumbs of nothingness
And yet we want to bless
Each ragged repetition of the waves --
“So inconsolable, so close to us.”
Close, indeed. Our backdoor in Loreto is 20 yards from the Sea of Cortez. The ocean intimidates me as it has since the first time I saw it 41 years ago in Florida, though its smells, drone and shifting colors are consoling, its rhythms blood-like. It answers something in us, as the closing lines of Eric Ormsby’s “Coastlines” imply.
On the walk into town along a dusty road we passed a crew pouring cement for a new sidewalk and kids already were drawing on it. Nearby was a crowd of dressed-up people surrounding an above-ground swimming pool. A large girl in a shiny purple dress climbed a ladder and lowered herself gingerly into the pool. It was a baptism, total immersion.
Drivers in Loreto are almost as conscienceless as those in Houston. Motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles compete for dominance with pickup trucks. The most popular T-shirts seen Saturday: “Shut Up and Fish” and “D.E.A.: Drunk Every Afternoon.” The best part of the day was spent walking the beach. I taught the boys to skip stones. We collected sea glass, shells and drift wood. The ocean felt reassuring after the noise and dust of town. Elsewhere in his poem Ormsby says:
“Coastlines are where our opposites ignite
And no one can say, After all, it’s all right.”