Evening Poem, September 7, 2014

Surf’s Up


I stand on the beach and look out into the incoming waves

One after another, peeling and seething and rushing along

Right at me, to die in a quiet line of foam on the shiny sand.

How well I know these rhythms

How well I know the slap and pull and tug of these unceasing emanations of force and energy.

The residual effects of some disturbance a thousand miles east

And the moon’s pull on the planet

If you are standing in just the right place you can feel the suction on your calves as the sea pulls back, like a bowstring being drawn

And the monster starts to crash over you.

You feel the pull and you know and you dive forward and kick for your life

and you are picked up and carried in the white roar.


I stare, north and south

the season is over

some linger on the beach

with dogs or frisbees

but no one ventures into the waves.


It is all too quiet.

Where are the friends of my youth?

Those daredevil boys who never tired of the beatings

For whom one good ride made all the work worthwhile

We hooted and hollered and fought the strong current

Till complete exhaustion

For the thrill, the glory and the joy.

We ended the day scuffed and stoved

But glowing and satisfied


I read the warnings on the sign

And look once more at the crowded beach and empty ocean

Nonetheless, I wade alone into the warm, shallow water

determined to mark one more day

as if a sacrament of remembrance.


I find the spot and wait

I feel the backward pull and lay myself down into the break

Remembering to trust

The ocean accepts me like an old lover

I am enveloped in the warm womb

And carried once more.

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