This is your birthday poem,
but I was never good at rhyming.
The matchy-matchy timing stunts my creativity,
and forces me to lay down words
where they don’t belong,
stuffed next to other words that
aren’t the right fit.
Timing isn’t always everything,
but maybe in our case, it was.
All those years ago, you told me you were haunted by one looming question.
Who do I want to walk hand-in-hand with along the beach when I get old?
It prompted me to ask myself the same darn thing.
And it haunted me too.
Although you never specified what beach, or how many beaches,
or the beach location.
You, the one who was so prodigious at planning,
had no plan.
Yes, yes, yes,
we chose to walk the beach together for the rest of time,
although time was on our side back then.
And even though I walked Myrtle Beach with you in full burka-like regalia,
we walked it.
Even though you walked way ahead of me in total embarrassment,
I wasn’t far behind.
And admittedly, the sun is not my thing, so the beach only works for me
in the rain,
or the clouds, or the dark.
And okay, I also have a water phobia, which I’m sure
you did not take into account when you asked yourself
that life-altering question.
And neither of us ever expected the life storms that often
engulfed us like tidal waves.
The seismic swells were way more than
we were prepared for.
Those rolling breakers pushed so much water onto the beach,
it was unwalkable and left sand and sediment,
when the waves washed back out.
But we weathered the storms and the tidal waves
Because yes, the tides transported the sand
and the sediment,
and reshaped the beach,
and the shoreline.
But the terrifying rogue waves also created
Beautiful and productive watersheds
that protected us
from the full force of the waves
and the winds
and the storms.
Even though I was on one side and
you were on the other,
I realize now, in the twilight of our lives,
that your beach was a dream,
but the answer to the question
And that, unlike books,
we are not headed for a happy ending.
Not because we don’t want it
or don’t deserve it.
But because the waves are churning up our beach,
our circle of life,
and the saga of our ocean.
I know now that our sometimes pebbly,
sometimes sandy shore
is a fateful,
frightful, beautiful mess.
An enduring and extended metaphor