off my wrist they sailed
note to self 1993
olive wood, worn pecan and
buttery from my touch—
fingering love, gratitude, peace,
and prayers upon prayers upon prayers
ninety-nine beads, each an aroma
of the beloved, plus two carved ones
that divide each thirty-three
a gift from my Sufi teacher—
bestowed from his murshid to him
the indelible chain of hearts
three wraps around my wrist,
always there. for thirty years,
I’d passed the tasbih beads
through thumb and forefinger
marking a sacred word or phrase
precious, old friends.
on a ten-day island retreat
I found a cockle 500 feet
above the sea—a shell, up here?
Did the land upheave
three-hundred-million years ago?
my intention: throw it back
from whence it came,
return it home to the Maui gods.
I made the cast and the shell took flight
as though in pursuit,
my treasured beads sailed off my wrist
aghast, I watched them fly
a long, asymmetrical
arc toward the woods
a chilla, a test, so very clear.
my heart lurched at the loss
they’re well and truly gone
let them go!
did I pinpoint their likely
grave in forest duff, spongy
and deep? oh, I searched!
frantic, desperate, digging, pawing
they must be there.
why had I not replaced aging string?
cross-legged on my bed,
sick at heart that I hadn’t
released my claim on them
I pondered the test I’d failed—
how will it come again?
2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—they may never turn into anything more or they might flower.
5 thoughts on “off my wrist they sailed”
Thank you so much for sending me your beautiful poem!! It brings you to me in such an intimate and lovely way!
I’m delighted you read them. That one had a long birth.
Feel hugs flying your way. We may be coming to Eugene for a visit in June.
I absolutely love your painting of the two rocks at the beach. I bet they have names, but I don’t know them. It is so coastal Oregon! Gorgeous. Come to think, I may visit your website to be inspired by your paintings. Ekphrastic poetry!
How did we originally meet? Was it through Ross Oldenstat?
Wow…I love this one
Thank you, Bud. This poem has hours and hours of work, and many rewrites. I don’t think of this one as a draft any more.