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.