Turning Forty

When you dream about an earthquake,
don’t worry about the ground
beneath you—concrete foundation
suddenly agape or wood floors
rolling like the sea—

no, best to examine the self—
has there been a recent shift—
a task completed, maybe, or a heart
startled open, numbed shut?
By now you know

that whatever your life might be,
it is not miles-long subterranean plates
colliding, not a majestic spike
on the Richter scale.
The sudden and severe is not

your way, yet here’s the dream
you never have: standing on the beach
watching the outgoing tide,
waves touching down
farther and farther

from your feet, pulling sand
into rivulets, the horizon
calling back one grain at a time.
How it shimmers, this
gradual slipping away.

“Turning Forty” was originally published in
the August 2006 issue of Seattle Woman.

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