Poem: The Promised Land

The Promised Land

Wind rustles the seagrass.
A slow drizzle falls.
If you are still, you hear the ocean,
just over the dunes.

It is a strange kind of desert here,
with water over the sandy horizon
it is dry as far as the eye can see,
deadlands of sand and dreams.

And yet it is here you come,
craving the emptiness,
a place to empty yourself.
Here, it is simple. Wind. Sand. Sun
on the best of days,
clouds on the others.

You come in the offseason
on purpose, grateful that you are old enough
the constriction of seasons no longer matter,

grateful for the love that taught you
you make your own seasons,
grateful for the woman who understands
and sends you on your way,
knowing it is the surest way to keep you close.

For you will return to her in a few short days
of healing, for this is the place miracles occur
and dead men rise again,
where compasses again find true north,
here in the desert,
you are like Moses, without the curse,
ready again to enter the promised land.

About this poem.

I am about to take a couple days away to Cape Cod.

People sometimes ask me if I really do nothing when I go there. I really do. Not for me the crowd strewn beaches or the touristy towns. I walk. I sit on the shore. For hours sometimes. I don’t read. I don’t go wading. Most people would find my little retreats terribly boring.

No matter. They are my emptying out place, and after this past year, I need emptying out. And for me at least. This is how. A multiday meditation, with a soundtrack of ocean waves.



  1. I can identify well with your imagery here, Tom.

    Diane and I used to live in Duluth, Minnesota on a narrow sand spit of land between Lake Superior and the Duluth/Superior harbor. Out our back door were miles of sandy shoreline, dunes and seagrass — an enchanting and spiritually renewing place.

    And then there is the case of Moses, striker of rocks when just a word would do, trying to force an outcome by his own wisdom and will, and banned from the Promised Land by his own pig-headedness. Sounds like me, too. But maybe for me (and you?) the dunes and the grass and the roar of the waves and the cry of gulls ARE the promised land we need right now.

    • Exactly. I never discovered the cape until I met my wife, about six years ago, And it has been my Canaan ever since. I would love to live in a a place where the back yard led to that kind of boundless emptyness.

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