Stroke and Longing, #82

A day at the beach, my feet
are lost in the muggy sand.
I am all legs and ankles,
bone and muscle planted
in the rolling surf, palm tree
bent and swaying in the breeze.
I feel tropic, although
the wind blowing in comes off
the North Atlantic, Greenland,
Finland, the English Channel.
I just adore its accent,
the language, its rumor
of blood, allusions to land
and class and lot, ancestry
wafting in across the sea.
My legs and feet sink deeper,
though if they reached the mantle
itself they would not take root.
No amount of air or dirt
can absolve traveling.

I rest in the surf, thigh high
out, and under my shoulders
at its height. All my anger,
labor and body odor
washed in beyond my branches
and back out before my feet,
into the undercurrent
that threatens, crossing in front
of me, daring my diving,
washing machine, detergent,
bleach. I turn to browse the shore.
Beachcombers lie back, cover
themselves in cocoa butter
and Ray-Bans, laugh and banter
in a muted out language.
No one along the beachhead
can see me, not the life guards,
the tourists, the Long Island
iced teas. The ocean cleansing
my skin opens, receives me.

A head first dive to the deep.

First I swim underwater,
kicking my feet like the wide
Atlantic were a backyard
pool and when I reached Europe
I could twist, spin and push-off,
head back for home. After three
or four breaths and thigh muscles
cramping, I rise up, windmill
my arms over my body
in an attempt to propel
my wee form cross the expanse
of space, stroke that only works
in calm, flat, glassy lakes. I look
back to measure the long curve
of the earth bent behind me.
How much pond have I traversed,
what land remains to be seen?
At this distance they are not
even specks, only the odd
dune bobbing along the sea.

I lie on my spine in the waves,
lifted up and laid back down,
a restless baby crying
through the night, mainland simply
too far off, a motherland
that no more exists. The place
I grew up in lives unsure
in my memory. Water
in each muscle giving shape
to every cell, pressing out
sides of my longing. Water,
true heritage, back beyond
rough redneck America,
colonial wanderings,
blue blood England.
Water, continent that spat
me out. I push high and kick
legs to lift my body up
above my waist, gulp one long
breath of salty air. And sleep.

A headfirst dive to the deep.



A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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