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Original Poem: "A Salt Sea" with Commentary

Updated on May 28, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Pacific Ocean, Encinitas CA

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "A Salt Sea"

As an American or Innovative sonnet, the poem features free verse, a variable rhythmic scheme, and no discernible rime scheme. Using the descriptor of "movement," the commentary reveals that the poem does follow the Elizabethan three-quatrains-and-a-couplet format.

(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

Poems that focus on spiritual subjects always employ heavy use of metaphoric imagery because there is no human language to describe the spiritual level of being. While this poem could well reveal a speaker describing her relationship with a human lover, the universality of its imagery—"listen to the ocean in your ear," "boundary of the skin," and "language you wish you could learn"— suggest that much more is at stake here than a mere human, physical relationship.

A Salt Sea

as you navigate your waters,
a salt sea pulsates your body.
a blood river meanders through it.
in the push and flow you examine your eyeball

and listen to the ocean in your ear,
but you can never find the boundary of the skin.
you never know where you should end and he might begin:
you feel you are a wave and he is the sand.

or he is a long strand of kelp and you are the forest.
maybe you are a school of fish and he is the food
they throw from the glass-bottom boat.
maybe both of you are the salt,

or he is a shark, or just a friendly dolphin
whose language you wish you could learn.

Commentary

This American sonnet focuses on the various metaphors that a beginning yogi might use to describe her relationship to her yogic Goal.

First Movement: Three-Quarters Water

as you navigate your waters,
a salt sea pulsates your body.
a blood river meanders through it.
in the push and flow you examine your eyeball

The human body is about three quarters water. The meditating yogi must "navigate" the churning water of the body, finding her safe vessel of stillness in order to reach the goal of meditation.

Second Movement: Speculation and Awareness

and listen to the ocean in your ear,
but you can never find the boundary of the skin.
you never know where you should end and he might begin:
you feel you are a wave and he is the sand.

The beginning yoga practitioner may have difficulty knowing if or when she has reached the various levels of awareness. So she may speculate about what those levels are.

The speaker likens those levels to physical objects; metaphorically is the only way a spiritual seeker can express the ineffable. Her first suggestion is that she might be "a wave" and the ineffable "the sand."

Third Movement: Life Comes in Pairs

or he is a long strand of kelp and you are the forest.
maybe you are a school of fish and he is the food
they throw from the glass-bottom boat.
maybe both of you are the salt,

The speaker continues her catalogue of possibilities for where she might end and the ineffable begin. She suggests pairs of "a long strand of kelp and you are the forest," a school of fish and food. She then guesses that maybe they both are the salt.

Fourth Movement: Learning the Language

or he is a shark, or just a friendly dolphin
whose language you wish you could learn.

In concluding her speculation, the speaker makes a startling suggestion and then tempers it a bit: maybe the ineffable is a shark. The sobering thought causes her to backtrack and replace the shark with a dolphin, "a friendly dolphin," by the way. And she wishes she could learn the dolphin's language—just as meditating yogis practice learning the language of their yogic Goal, the Divine Reality.

(A slightly different version of this poem under the title, "This Salt Sea," appears in my collection of poems titled Turtle Woman & Other Poems.)

At SRF Lake Shrine, Windmill Chapel

Source

Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

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  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    5 months ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you, Natalie! I do love this poem, one of my favorites. It does dramatize the dilemma of a beginning yogi. I love ocean imagery. Thus I had a great time composing both the poem and the commentary.

  • Natalie Frank profile image

    Natalie Frank 

    5 months ago from Chicago, IL

    What a wonderful work. The commentary really adds to it. It is so rare that we get to see the thinking of a poet behind their own pieces. Thank you for that glimpse.

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