The Year-Ago You

A year ago this would have bugged you. You wouldn’t have gathered all of your morning things, much less carried them fifty feet, down the walk, through the gate, over the road to the beach. There isn’t a desk, much less a coaster for your coffee. And let’s say you had made it all the way without spilling, what then? Then the sand’s always at least a little wet. Then there are always some bugs. There’s always that morning breeze, and you, of course, didn’t have a third arm to carry a jacket.

This morning I realized something I hadn’t perched quite high enough up the sand slope. I also realized that would have been the end of it for you. When that big wave rushed up unexpectedly, wetted your pages, soiled your dress, mixed your coffee with the ocean, that, most certainly, would have been it. You would have stomped back to the house, something about your spoiled morning. Me, I’m writing about the way the sand spreads out below my ass when I wiggle. I don’t flinch when the waves boom, don’t so much as look up when I hear the white water whispering its way up the shore, which is why this message will not be in a bottle. You, the last-year you, the you who started all these pages in the dry quiet kitchen, this morning, you were swept out to sea.

Christine Stroik Stocke

Christine grew up fishing on a small lake in Wisconsin. She didn’t become an architect, because someone told her it involved a lot of calculus. So now, she observes. She takes notes. She asks inappropriate questions. Christine received her bachelor’s degree in English from Washington University in St. Louis and her master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Other works by Christine can be found in numerous literary journals, including the Rio Grande Review, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Structo, and the Best New Poets anthology. You can follow Christine online at She currently lives and works in The Netherlands.


Artwork by chateaugrief.