White Ocean Motel
In the White Ocean Motel
at night our parents drink beer and boil
a tall pot of clams. “I hate clams,”
I hiss. I hate the clam gun, the bucket,
the beach at 5 a.m. I hate the gray
surf breaking beneath a burden
of rain. They laugh in the kitchen,
fog the window with steam. Three
teenagers sprawl across sandy beds,
the oldest preaching again what God
wants. God wants to save us. Save me
from go-karts, from fourteen,
from nothing good to eat or ever
happening. “The night is far spent,
the day is at hand.” When they all
fall asleep, I test God—“Lift this coat
to that bed.” The coat stays.
I cannot see I am moving.
The river didn't offer
flocks of birds, or wood ducks
nesting near shore. I never startled
from a flick of light on water,
the flash of fin and silver tail.
The current didn't care I was growing up.
It sent a boy who slowed his car
by the old ice house, who drove
beside me as I rode across
the wooden bridge. He asked
from his open window if I liked
my bike seat, he smiled and asked
if I liked how the bike seat
felt. I want to have known
the river clear, the park
unforbidden, its gravel beach
unlit by headlights, awash
instead with early dusk, the sun
after supper lowering itself
between cedar and fir.
Marlene Muller lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in Cistercian Studies Quarterly Commonweal, Whether Magazine, and Pontoon: An Anthology of Washington State Poets.