Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
Between two waves, one flat on sand,
The other rising darkly green;
One drying slowly into the land;
One crested white with drops that mean
To fling themselves as never flung
Sea-water at the world before,
The history of earth stands still.
Man has this instant, if at all,
To know, to stop, to guess, to will
The way his toppling wave shall fall.
Not that he might not stay the tide,
Or help some skeleton to hide,
Or save the world by his belief.
But that the possible is brief.
Aiming the nearest blue-gray stone
At the deep of a tall wave thrown
Is all a man ashore can do,
And hope his wrist and eye are true.
If arm and eye and blue stone strike
All white together into the wave,
One drop of what he may love and like
Is his by sudden skill to save
From drying easily into the sand.
Still the sea-waves come at the land.