Your First Ocean

by Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk

No taller than my knee
when you challenge
your first ocean.

Ankle deep, you strain your body
against my tight grip
throw head to sky
capture the ocean’s roar
into the cave of your mouth
Even when the waves spill into you
fill you with your first taste of salt
you do not bend from the task
of challenging your first ocean.

Today you turn your back to the same
tide, stretch and yawn, open wide
that same cave that had taken
in some primal catch
to tell me you haven’t eaten yet.

Watching you, I question
do you remember your first ocean?

I am a poet, novelist, and songwriter who sticks my finger in the vast world while keeping my little toe in sand. My writing has won Best Short Story at Third Goal, and is in ECS Nepal, The Bicycle Review, ABC-Clio, and Peace Corps’ Digital Library. My last project is based on my novel, Only Ghosts, and it has been performed in several venues around Portland. I am a founding member of the writers’ group, The Guttery ( and of the Eclectic Music Society. Some of my readings are featured at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Whitman Project, The Oregon Literary Review, Show and Tell Gallery, KBOO Radio’s Stage and Studio, and Love Outlives Us. Though I’ve lived in many places, these days I live with my ten-year-old daughter in Portland, Oregon where I teach high school students from around the world when I am not writing and performing.