Monday, March 10, 2014

Poem: "The Beach, Yesterday and Today"

"The Beach, Yesterday and Today"

You and I once held eternity in a sand wave that stroked
our skin, swallowed our secrets, saved us from the day.
Our life span was the distance we could swim before
the current tossed us back.  Our lungs clung to air like

snails clung to rocks. We raced to the end of the path before
the lighthouse disappeared.  Each shell we stole

was a gold medal we won in our race against
time.  But we return, three years later, sift our

hands through the particles of shells left
behind.  For now we cling to string handrails

of a decaying bridge, racing maggots to step
on each board.  But they’re fast, and we’ve fallen,

been thrashed through the washing machine, drowned
in rip currents that slam us against their floor.

You’ve been under so long, the current caresses,
the motion rocks you to sleep.  The ones who brought

you here can’t reach you where they are, so instead
the ocean cradles you.  I wonder if it knows that

four minutes of its embrace will shatter you.  For
now we’re not racing time to the finish line, but

running from an oil spill, a hurricane, a plague. 
We dodge broken bottles instead of sand hurdles. 

Our award is not a medal, but the chance
to take another step without bleeding. 

I wonder if we are shells polished, painted,
and preserved, or if we’re the shattered debris

of last summer’s shells, tossed
with pebbles and glass.

(Fall 2009)

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