In Front of a Boundless Ocean
First published as the foreword to Ce Rosenow’s book, Pacific (Hillsboro, Oregon: Mountain Gate Press, 2009, pages ix–x). Originally written in August and September 2009. See also Complex Echoes: A Review of North Lake. + +
When William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, reached the Pacific Ocean at Tillamook Head near Cannon Beach, Oregon, he described it as “the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean.” Ce Rosenow feels the same way about the sea. Summer is beach season, the time when most of us first encounter the ocean. But for Ce, her connection with the ocean is year-round. As the poems in this book demonstrate, she revels in her love affair with the ocean throughout each season of the year.
For all of us, the ocean is still grand and boundless. As children, who among us did not look forward to another visit to the beach, whether to forage in the tide pools, to craft a sandcastle, to splash in the surf, or to run without a care along the sand? As adults, our desire for the sea may turn more contemplative. We photograph crashing breakers, listen to clattering beach stones as another wave recedes, or share a sunset with a loved one. Of course, for most people in North America, to share a sunset at the beach means to be on the West coast, and that’s exactly where we are. This book celebrates the Oregon and Washington coast.
Ce Rosenow is not just at the Pacific Ocean, but also at a pacific place in life, accomplished and content with herself, yet always exploring. The greatness of the ocean is at once calming and frightening, repelling and attractive, and these poems dwell in such tensions, despite the author’s contentment. They offer subtle awarenesses and intimate stories, coming in and taking us out like gentle seacoast waves—or the occasional sneaker wave. These poems are indeed just like waves—some quiet, some stormy. A few poems are precise observations of nature that evoke the tranquility of the moment or the setting. Others are darker, revealing life’s pressures, but always with a sense of acceptance.
Acceptance, ultimately, is a central stance of this book, welcoming what is received, to the point of celebration. I hope that you, too, will welcome this collection and come to the same pacific place of acceptance that Ce Rosenow has reached in her poems.
Michael Dylan Welch