Jean L. Kreiling

Taking Mom to Nauset Beach

Like her, I’d always heard the sea’s command,
our breathing easier in salty air,
and so she knew that I would understand.

She longed to see the water meet the land,
the surf’s old song a tune her blood would share;
like me, my mother heard the sea’s command.

We drove to Nauset, and I took her hand—
at eighty-nine and frail, she wouldn’t dare
this walk alone—she knew I’d understand.

She almost lost her footing in the sand,
but laughed and kept her balance, while her hair
and mine blew wildly, at the wind’s command.

We paused and watched the breakers. As she scanned
the blue and white expanse, I wondered where
she saw herself. I didn’t understand

it all, but we were part of something grand,
and as I steadied her, she still took care
of me. My mother heard the sea’s command,
a song she knew I’d always understand.


Jean L. Kreiling is a Professor of Music at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts; she previously taught English at Western Carolina University in North Carolina.  Her research on the intersections between music and poetry have appeared in numerous academic journals, and she has published two collections of original poetry:  Arts & Letters & Love  (2018) and The Truth in Dissonance (2014).

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