Sunday, March 3, 2013


"I notice something sparkle near my feet among the tangles of rockweed. I reach down and pick up a palm-sized circle of blue sea glass, just the bottom of a bottle. Once it was someone’s trash, but now the ocean has tumbled it all smooth and beautiful." Touch Blue, Cynthia Lord, p. 2

Several years ago, I came across a quote in Cynthia Lord's TOUCH BLUE. In case you haven't read this intermediate grade novel, it's about about a family that lives on an island off the coast of Maine. Because the island doesn't have enough children, it is in danger of losing its school, so several families decide to increase the island's population by becoming foster families. The narrator of this story is Tess, a girl whose family takes in thirteen-year-old Aaron. Tess has high hopes for this new brother/friend, but soon discovers that being a foster family isn't all that easy.

I fell in love with the book. Some books/movies tend to romanticize foster care and make it seem like kids will emerge from their really difficult previous lives, go into more "normal" settings, and be fine within a matter of months. The truth is, I think, that kids that have been in the foster care system have had experiences and have scars that impact them for their entire lives. (I'm not saying kids can't overcome these really hard experiences, but rather that they have a lifelong impact).

When I contacted Cindy Lord about TOUCH BLUE, she responded by sending us beautiful sea glass key chains. That image of sea glass, how something ordinary could be tumbled and broken, but then emerge as something beautiful, has stayed with me for the last four or five years, and given me hope. The last couple of years have been especially hard, and I keep reminding myself that something beautiful will emerge from all of the tumbling and banging and brokenness.

"sea glass"

brown white purple
 less common
jade gold amberina
still rarer
pink purple citron aqua

everyday containers
soda fruit juice beer
ink medicine poison
windshields tableware nautical lights
and occasionally

made its way
into the ocean
where it was 
banged tossed broken altered
by rocks pebbles currents
salty sea water

only to emerge
on beaches
years later
smooth and beautiful
collectors' treasures

my boys
smooth chocolate skin
dark sparkling eyes
dimpled smiles
rippling muscles
 born to be
scholars athletes artists musicians
workers husbands daddies

have been
banged tossed broken altered
by life's circumstances

something beautiful
will emerge
but right now
the edges are so sharp

Carol Wilcox


Kay said...

I love the hope that comes from the image of sea glass. All these broken pieces are tumbled around and emerge as something beautiful. I hope something beautiful can emerge from all the brokenness that seems to surround schools and education. I bought a pair of seaglass earrings at the beach last summer. I will remember to hope whenever I wear them.

Nanc said...

Sending this slice to my son Jeff who is working with that 18-20 something group of kids newly emancipated from the system. They have so many scars and now are even more abandoned after the money runs sometimes does the love. Right now he is working with some on digital media projects where they can really tell their story. Telling the story brings power. xo nanc

Katherine Sokolowski said...

Love this line:

I keep reminding myself that something beautiful will emerge from all of the tumbling and banging and brokenness.


elsie said...

Carol, this is beautiful. I love the roles you have envisioned for your boys. Your love will smooth those rough edges.

Beverley Baird said...

Carol - your poem is beautiful and so touching.
The image of the sea glass really offers hope - from trash to beautiful treasure.
I will have to read this book - sounds like a powerful one.
Thanks for your comments and for sharing this so very personal poem and post.

Mandy said...

Carol, I have chills from reading your piece. I'm sorry to hear you have had some rough days but read through your poem that good is ahead. We collected sea glass on Lake Erie for many summers while my in laws lived there, the hunt is always good when treasures are found.

only to emerge
on beaches
years later
smooth and beautiful
collectors' treasures

I think these lines reflect on your boys too, take care.

Mandy said...


only to emerge
on beaches
years later
smooth and beautiful
collectors' treasures

These lines capture your future for you and your boys. Your entire poem gave me chills. We use to hunt for sea glass on Lake Erie when my inlaws lived there. Sea glass is a natural wonder and your boys are so lucky to have you.

Michelle said...

Wow, I love your connection Carol. It's beautiful. Breathtaking. That sea glass took time to smooth the edges. That same time is needed for your boys.

I will also have to read "Touch Blue" - one I haven't read.

Thank you for the touching slice.

Looking for the Write Words said...


I am immediately reacting inside with connections to your beautiful post. I too love Touch Blue and would you believe I am starting it with a group of my 4th graders this week. Thank you for the message of hope your words contain and I hope that healing comes your way. Take care. ~ Theresa

Larkin said...

I love this! When my family and I go to our beach house over the summer we always go to a place we call "seaglass beach." My mom always says that one person's trash is another person's treasure, which stands especially true for seaglass. The "broken pieces" "emerge as something beautiful" was my favorite line of your piece for this reason.

Ramona said...

I enjoyed Touch Blue too. Have you read One for the Murphy's? It's another hopeful book about the foster care system. My students liked discussing it in lit circles. Blessings to you and your sons.