Denial is an ocean

One of hundreds

I’ve heard the reports. Negative abysmal temperatures again tonight. Let’s just pretend, shall we?

Let’s say we’re in that cottage by the ocean. You know the place. We’ve just unloaded the car and are hurriedly running around to see what’s changed since last year, claiming bedrooms, putting the sheets we’d packed only hours ago onto welcoming beds, pulling back the curtains.

Then running out the door (let that screen door slam) and down the sandy path to the dune above the beach. It’s late and getting dark, but we can still see enough to see how steep the slope is. Kick off those shoes. They’re safe. Unleash the dog. He knows the way. Hit the sand with our bare feet and it feels cold, but not enough to stop us.

Let gravity pull us down that dune. Let the ocean pull us across the high tide line of wrack, driftwood, charred wood from someone else’s beach fire.

Look! The sun’s just setting and the gulls are quieting. Is that a seal or a wave? Too dark to tell.

The dog’s already ankle-deep in foam. The ocean’s laughing. The waves are kicking up a fuss, reaching and receding, frizzling and falling over itself in excitement that we’re finally here.

Everyone else is leaving; they must have dinner plans. But we? We have potato chips and hot chocolate in the cottage, and we’ll get to that by-and-by. We have all the time in the world.

This side of the embrace

(Photo by Neil and Cathy Carey)
(Photo by Neil and Cathy Carey)

We’re here on this shore of the Atlantic, after driving through sleet and slush and rain, and spending a night in our sister’s cozy home. We tried to sleep, but the dog was restless all night (there was a cat to meet), and made a pathetic whining sound for hours. We arrived on the Cape in cloud and cold, grateful to be at our home-away-from-home.

After lunch, and after the car was unloaded and the beds made and the groceries put away… we napped. As you do when you are content, and chilled, and knowing that the ocean is scouring the shore just a short walk away.

Some years ago–a lifetime ago–I took a nap on the other shore of the Atlantic, in the sheltering crook of a wall at Dún Dúchathair, to the tune of the wind and the waves.

Now we’re awake, and the evening is waiting, and Seamus Heaney, who knows something about cold rocks, windswept shores, and putting a few words together, is celebrating his birthday on that other shore (or so I imagine; he could be sitting in a coffee shop in Indianapolis, for all I know).

Lovers on Aran

The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas

To posess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?

Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.

–Seamus Heaney

52 Weeks ~ I left my heart in… (5/52)

RSiegel_Week5 - Blurr on the beach

LeCount Hollow Beach, Wellfleet, MA

the pewter sky is darkening
in the undefined time
between the endless afternoon
of buckets and spades,
striped umbrellas,
sandy potato chips

and the offered evening,
when we, freshly showered,
will drive the well-worn route into town,
step into our favorite restaurant
order drinks, and review our options.

in this time between then and next
we sit on the slope of the dune
and watch the smudged line
between strand and sea
as it shuffles toward us
then hisses away

the man’s arms are around the woman
the woman’s arms are around the child

the dog is running on the packed sand
like a seal with legs

nothing will ever be better than this

a three-masted schooner, sails puffed
like marshmallow balloons
could sail right along the shore,
the captain waving to us,
the brass buttons on his coat
sparkling in the last
sideways slant sunlight

and the moment could not be more perfect
than now
with the blurry line between sea and strand
with the girl and her sea-salted hair
with the pup racing the waves
with the man and woman
who have been through the worst
who know there is worse to come.

in a few minutes,
they’ll reluctantly rise,
gather up the beach toys and blankets
and walk the sandy trail to the cottage

home away from home

the evening beckons

the woman’s heart beats
the useless refrain:
stop time
stop time
stop time