Shara McCallum is the author of three individual collections of poetry, This Strange Land, Song of Thieves, and The Water Between Us. Her fourth book, New and Selected Poems, will be published in the UK in September 2011. Her poems have appeared in journals, anthologies, and textbooks in the US, UK, Caribbean, Latin America, and Israel and been translated into Spanish and Romanian. Originally from Jamaica, she lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she directs the Stadler Center for Poetry and teaches at Bucknell University.
We walk into rooms that wait for us to enter them.
We walk into waves that threaten to drown us.
But they don’t. They fill us instead
with salt, sand, and their own light.
As a child, from a small boat, I watched my father
swim away, ignoring my mother’s pleas—her voice
sucked into the wind, my own no match
for the undertow or sharks I feared.
There are moments in a life
when everything comes apart, is ripped so clean
who you are is laid bare. My father returned to us
that day, but he was not the same man
I had seen enter those waves.