Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.
by John McCrae
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sails shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a dear call that may not be denied,
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume and the sea gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas agin, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
This was my step-mother’s favorite poem. When she married my dad, she hung her large, beautifully framed seascape in our living room, a painting with no land in sight, only turbulent green water and ominous clouds. I thought it was classy and beautiful. Donna moved a lot of nice things into our mostly empty house. The old fashioned formica dinette set was replaced with her round, walnut table and topped with a brass candelabra. She brought books and seashells and acrylic grapes. It felt like we were moving up, Dad and I. She was prettier than Mom and fancier. She got her hair and nails done every week. Her bracelets and shoes matched her belts and earrings. I was excited to have a school teacher for a step-mom. She would help me with homework. I would have cool clothes and become popular. Maybe.
I’d never heard the phrase “red-headed step-child” until Donna’s best friend said it at the wedding reception. “Is this the red-headed step-child?” They laughed, quickly hushing into their drinks. It was some kind of joke and I didn’t get it. I wasn’t a redhead. I had reddish highlights.
Turns out, it doesn’t matter what color your hair is.