6/26/15 He Missed

The slow night darkened. Before him the tide had nearly come in. The sand was cool under his bare feet, but the heat of the sun hadn’t yet dissipated from his skin. The mountains that blocked the horizon were rimmed with purple, then orange, then yellow, before the space around them became the sky. He knew those mountains. He’d climbed them with his uncle. His uncle who’d been like a father. His aunt who’d been like a mother.

They’d not worry about him for some more hours. He often stayed out late, though not at bars or clubs. Usually where he was now. Sitting on a log on the beach and wondering what came next.

A dog and its master was a long way down the beach. He watched the dog run from beach log to beach log, smelling, lifting its leg, then to the next. Dog and master walked toward him. Their silhouettes taking on new meaning. He could see now that the woman had longer hair. Her dog was a collie and the white of its chest was gray in the failing light. The dog brought a smell of sea water closer to him than before. The woman brought a memory to mind that had been swept away by the currents of time.

“Evening,” she said.

“Hey. Hey pup,” he said to the woman, then the dog. It stopped and sniffed his hand. The woman stopped to watch it do so.

He looked up at her and said, “Don’t I know you?”

“Think you do.”

“I do.”

The dog, bored with the small exchange, scampered off to smell something new.

“We were once in love,” she said.

“I’ve never been in love,” he said.

“In love with this beach.”

A heron swooped low and landed in the tide down the beach.

“In love with places, not people,” he said.

“So you can’t love?”

“This is weird,” he told her. “I don’t really know you.”

“But once you did.”

He looked down the beach. The dog had gone. He didn’t know where.

“You’re dog left you.”

“He’ll be back–or I’ll find him,” she said.

He couldn’t tell in the twilight, but he thought she had a rather long, beakish nose. He couldn’t tell in his memory if he’d gone to high school with her, or community college, or what–but she did seem familiar.

“Have a good night,” he said.

“I want you to love me like you used to do,” she said.

“I never did.”

“I already said you have. But you left.”

He had left. Not her. But these shores and found himself for years, until months ago, in a landlocked country of dirt and sand and the hottest sun rocks he’d ever seen or felt. The cracking of the bullets leaving chambers and the whispered talk of chemicals. And now he was back and couldn’t make sense of any of it.

“I’m here now,” he said.

“And yet you don’t remember me,” said the woman.

He looked past her to the water. It lapped at the shore. He missed the things he missed while at war. Even as he experienced them he missed them as well.

6/20/15 Home

There isn’t a place like home but home.

We might go out and see a dark place

or waterfalls

or high mountains

but there is always a place that calls us back

and at the same time

keeps us wishing we were somewhere else.

And then when we are old

we crave that slowed-down framerate.

We wish the movies were 24 FPS,

like when we were kids,

and we don’t like the changes to the internet,

and we complain about the way things are,

romanticizing those days when things

weren’t as good, but at least we understood them.

At least we felt as though we understood them.

5/23/15

If I can’t see out across that horizon I know you will describe it for me.

“It’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen,” you’d say to me.

“It is long and cold and full of secrets. It is compassionless

and uncaring. It what it is according to its nature. The ocean is a cruel mistress.”

But I have never sailed the ocean I tell you.

“And still it always calls you back–not to ride it, to sail, but to its shores,

Its fingertips that tickle your toes.”

If I can’t hear the mountains you will tell me what they say.

“They are slow and hard and always growing–even now.

They say they are restless and naked. Their valleys unexplored,

Their snow never melted–but waiting.”

But I have not climbed them all I tell you.

“And nobody has. Yet they speak to you and draw

You back to rest in the heart of their bosom.”

If I cannot feel the moon at night you will put your hands upon me.

I do not need you to tell me how this feels.

The moon is kind and cool and never changes her mind.

Your hands are warm and soft and never have felt better

Than they do here and now.

The moon looks down at us and I don’t want the ocean

Or the mountains

Or the moon at all.

Just in this night and life I breathe you in

and breathe you out.