When You Lap My Feet

When you lap my feet
With your soothing song
I want to dive into your wetness
To see how deep inside our souls
I can swim.

I walk towards you step by step
Until your song drowns the noises
Life makes of other people’s living.

I could stand on your sand
A foundation slips away
And never fear a thing
Then watch the gull fly
Over your shimmering skin
Aloft in freedom
Finding inside a sustenance
That brings life
Only your deepest flesh knows.

I am briefly jealous.
Until I hear your song again
Singing for me
Alone in the surf where you end
Always giving me a loving caress
That froths as it fades
And surges up, again and again.

You deposit gifts on my earth
Broken shells and drifting weeds
Only I can see as my treasure.
Here, the smoothed rock…
There, a flattened stone
For me to return to you in skips
Like a man remembering his boyhood
Or a boy still dreaming of what story
He will tell when I return inside you
A love as persistent as the moon
That pulls you rising
Across the quiet of a solitude
That together we understand
As a language spoken
Throughout time for this moment
Awaiting us since the beginning.

Ocean Testimony

a boy sits on a broken lobster trap
to stop the shiver in his knees
and accounts for strange, winter companions:

a flock of seagulls,
cracking mussel shells on the jetty

a sentimental couple,
walking barefoot in the shallow surf

a dog and its walker,
tossing a tennis ball for an eager fetch

rescued from kelp beds
wood from broken ships
smoothed, minimizing clues
to piece together adrift memories

he surveys this salt kingdom
that spat out the detritus.

the surf, a siren’s call;
powerful crests and hypnotic cadence
subversive beauty:
when enraged,
devours armadas.
when stilled,
reveals deep harmony.

He watches whitecaps
rise to kiss the moon
then melt away.

This blameless breeze that surrounds
its guests with a pleasant chill,
Weaves dune grasses and lost relics into fences.
In his heart, a voice
– music –
a melody for strange companions
a silent resounding testament to beauty.

“William”

She would walk the beach, her footprints, palimpsests
of journeys week after week in Sunday best –
fine lace and white silk from Victorian boutiques.
A bystander looked askance at this woman in wedding gown
a lonely widow or abandoned bride, clinging to hope.
Yellow shawl defeated by the overcast day
gives up its purpose, and slips off her shoulders.

In the sun-hardened mud, his name carved with parasol,
she feared in marble relief what the sea would soon erase –
sand offers little comfort to a heart fighting grief.
Hands weak and numb, sun’s power swallowed by winter
– she closed her eyes and saw waves batter him
on the rock jetty stealing from lungs, air that gently
whispered her name and washed it and flesh out to sea.

To spite the chill,
she willed an embrace and the last kiss of soft lips.


Image: Waiting for William, John George Brown

Swim Inside My Words

“I want to swim in your words,”
She says and
An ocean opens inside me.
I have to pause,
As one should,
Just before testing the surf
To look with awe at the horizon.

But I will get to those words,
Later,
The depths of which takes time to expose.
Let us linger here in the echo
Of waves powerful enough to move
The rocks that make up our earth.
How do these waters hold us with such force?

“I want to swim in your words,”
She says.
At the waters edge I dig a hole
To make a pool.
My bucket filled with sand
To reclaim land elsewhere
On the island.

Speaking of pools,
Walk with me
On broken granite slabs
To where the tide collects
Life we can name
From depths now exposed
To the sun:

Sea anemone
Starfish
Sea cucumber
Snails
Seaweed
Swim inside my words
Past the horizon.

Photo: Me, San Diego, Ocean Beach