This Poem Is for You

This is your birthday poem,

but I was never good at rhyming.

The matchy-matchy timing stunts my creativity,

my wordsmithing,

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

didn’t we?

Because yes, the tides transported the sand

and the sediment,

and reshaped the beach,

and the shoreline.

But the terrifying rogue waves also created

unexpected estuaries.

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

was real.

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

for us.

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