Wake

Today Christian and I celebrate our sixth (summer) wedding anniversary. Our little family is setting off this morning by ferry to Lopez Island, the first stop on our five week summer island hopping adventure. I met him nine summers ago. This poem is about that day and the sculpture Wake by Richard Serra, which our daughter Georgia is running amongst above.

 

Wake

“Each module is identical and comprised of two S-sections, which are inverted in relationship to each other…What’s important is you moving between them, through them, and around them as they undulate; it’s your body moving in relation to their surface that moves.”

 ~ Richard Serra, Wake, 2004 Weathering Steel

 

I walked straight up to you

kept going on instinct

into your surprised arms

the first time I met you 

here in the Olympic Sculpture Park

nine years ago.

We strolled in the late afternoon sun

affected more by each other than the art. 

It was July, the kind of summer evening

we dream about in December.

Then I showed you Wake

the Richard Serra

sculpture I loved, 

five hulking and elegant ellipses,

such proudly rusting 

iron slabs.

 

A glass of champagne, 

then on to dinner. 

We inhaled each other,

pheromones registering

yes yes yes.

You lived in Canada.

Merely a detail.

 

Since that day, 

we’ve searched out Serra’s work

in the Toronto airport, 

the Walker in Minneapolis,

Storm King in the Catskills, 

Guggenheim Bilbao, 

an unexpected sighting

on Lopez Island. 

 

I remember the wake 

I’d criss-cross on a slalom ski 

behind our little boat on Lake Okoboji, 

the languorous wake of a Turkish gulet,

immense wake of an ice-breaker

beneath soaring Wandering Albatrosses.

 

I see what Serra was thinking, yes,

but the art itself murmured to me

Look at this man beside you.

Wake to your new life, 

wake.

Sarah Burns