Like Breathing

the push is as important
as the pull

the exhale as vital
as the inhale

i learned today that the incoming tide moves air through the sand
pulling water in, moisturizing
luring, suffocating

and then in an instant, returns it
pushes back with force

exchanges water
with considerate inevitability
washing the sand with enough air
for bubbles

releasing the grip of water-filled lungs

and expelling it as an exhalation

like breathing.

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I am not a surfer

I can feel the chill of the water
in the wind that sprays my hair

the wet sand puddled in places
picks up the paraffin in the sunset

the wink of old footprints
flush with footsteps untaken

the smooth belly of the sand ready for me to pat

I propel forward, the waves that chatter my teeth
inching closer to me, like a feral cat I want to pet

prancing one foot further each time
ready to be ransacked

and then they arrive,
beneath the postcard sunset and the
silhouette summer day swimming in my vision,

I see the surfers.

Expecting Baywatch, these boys slobber into the sea
one barely making waves
the other backwards and flapping like a drowning seal
these are the photographic evidence I need to know

I am not a surfer.

My brethren chainlinked against the seaweed, I cannot look away
expecting success, failure, death by shark, who knows?

I never thought before that surfers could teach me something new
show me on a platter a principle I’m likening to

it is not about being flashy on the board for all to see
it is not about still life adventure on a mailed piece of paper
it is not about escaping the mundane by tasting the tide

it is flapping in the undertow, crashing into other swimmers,
knocking your head sideways into the water
ingesting seaweed and measuring which way is up

it is walking right back into the deep crash of beachtime
it is a flashing mindpicture of yes
it is worth facing the undertow

it is knowing you are a surfer.

2.

I didn’t want to let go of your hand
as we walked you through your greatest fear.

The sand felt like it swallowed me whole
hurling pod after pod of seaweed at my ankles

tempting me to give in to anti-balance

but I felt your hand, the smooth skin, the slant of the sea
slick between our fingers, but unable to break
this bond.

Slippery Fish

Slippery fish,
who knew you were happy in that bowl?
I spent so many years scoping out surface
for you, foaming at the mouth with eager
anxiety.
You were buried under the sand.

Slippery fish,
who knew you were wounded in the water?
I felt so many years of frenetic family
scoping our surface, eager with mouth spent
foaming
Digging out the soul in the sand.

Slippery fish,
who knew you were dying in the water?
I spent so many years finding foam for us to eager
surface for us to scope,
anxiety buried in the bowl
You are floating over the sand.