I consider myself mainly a prose writer, both fiction and nonfiction, but I frequently “dabble” in poetry because subject matter and voice almost always dictate form, leaving me little choice. The poem is based on an actual incident from years ago on one of my solo travels to Asia. Military bases are often ugly places; you’ve got young, inexperienced American men from often rural or very provincial backgrounds colliding with poverty-stricken women who have entered the sex trade, and the men think the women are “exotic sex toys” and the women are hoping the men can keep them from starving. I’ve seen some horrific things. And then there’s the northern coast in California that offers amazing, often hidden, beaches, and of course there is nothing like the Pacific Ocean, the color, the sound of waves smacking against jagged rocks, the sheer force and beauty. The funny thing about this particular beach is that it was named after the sign informing the public to park only on one side of the road. When I lived in California, and visited the North Coast beaches, I would often look out toward Asia, where I’d traveled a fair amount, with all the challenges of being a woman alone. And though of course you can’t see any land, I would imagine that the same water moved between us, making connections, like the one I felt that night witnessing the horror of another woman’s abuse and humiliation in Japan, and being helpless to stop it.
Alyce Miller is the author of four books of fiction and one book of nonfiction, and more than 250 stories, poems, essays, and articles. www.alycemillerwriter.com
Illustrations by Jackie O’Brien. She is a problem solver, who enjoys to draw. She’s passionate, and brings her enthusiasm to all.