A Poem A Day, Day Twenty-Two

Coast

There are the beaches of our youth where we mark impossible feats
in the fine, cool and forgiving sand,
that we toss up in cartwheels,
pile up in castles
and push under us like lovers.
We build and destroy and build again.
We shine with the dusty glimmer of eons
clinging to our skins.

As adults
we trace our progression,
planning vacations along the shoreline
full of long meandering walks.
We tell the mythologies of our friendships
and the genealogy of our families
to anyone who will listen.

Older, we watch the sky nervously.
We go inside during thunderstorms.
We have a dog to bark at the sea foam.
We realize how hard the coast can be.

Before we die, eccentric and wild-eyed
we climb the cliffs and leave the warning:
“WE LOST EVERYTHING HERE.”
Until we are too tired to visit graveyards anymore.

When we are very, very old
and we know we are adrift,
we lay under the enormous sky,
our tiny raft rattling far out at sea.
The hours become days and the days seem like nothing.
The flashing light on the dimpled surface of the water beckons us.

The Coast with all its details:
The granular bits of the oldest stone worn down by the constant beating of the ocean,
The trees that were old when the oldest prophets walked,
The rivers spilling out the rain that fell on mountains
far away and too mighty to live on,
all fade as the coast becomes a whisper.

We slip into the swell,
carried away by the welcoming sea.

I have been working this poem like it was bread dough for years. (And that metaphor for writing poetry I borrowed from Dr. Lisa Dickson who writes much better than I.) I still don’t know if it’s ready to be baked! But here it is for you, another poem.

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