Remember, summers at the beach,
Dad would take us to Port A?
We’d scavenge the shore for sand dollars
and find pieces
and whole parts of dead crabs;
you hooked one claw around your thumb,
ran screaming to your mom
like it was alive and it had you.
I wish you were alive.
We dug a hole in the sand where the
water could crawl and fill it in.
I was mesmerized, sitting in the salty
sensation, the pull of the tide;
I didn’t see the man-of-war
float across my legs. You ran away;
I ran crying with red skin.
Dad made me pee on my legs
to make the stinging stop.
Remember, I found a hermit crab
lost in a patch of seaweed
the same day.
Dad let me keep it because he felt bad;
I left it in a glass of tap water
on the night stand.
We got back and our hotel room
smelled of gutted fish and rot.
It was free of its shell, dead, and bloated.
We were young all those years,
always removing sand
from places it didn’t belong.
Each time Dad got a promotion
we got better rooms
and in those last five years condos.
We’d be the first ones peeking
into a blue cabin’s windows,
twisting at the knobs impatient
and giddy as seagulls
who have lifted Cheetos up from toddlers.
There were wars between us,
and petty debates
about sandwich spreads, you said
Miracle Whip was best,
and I licked Mayonnaise off a lid;
I secretly tasted your choices,
tried on your preference of punk rock,
stole the keys to Dad’s truck;
I liked it all.
We were Tom and Huck, sometimes.
Remember, I punched you in the face
when I was four-and-a-half
and you were seven,
standing on a pillow in our room.
I wanted to make the bed
and your brother taught you to be mean.
You cried and Dad stifled a laugh,
but your mom was raving mad.
There were so many fights,
bitter sweet things,
We were hurricanes and smog and song.
I can’t remember the last time
I took a vacation,
but see how my life has become
an extended break.
I finished my finals at the university.
I swore to you I’d graduate,
but I never went back and it never
made a difference.
I try to remember who I was
throughout the years
but she’s gone like you, trying
less to ruminate.
I grapple with PTSD and beaches
and know I’ll have to find
something completely different
to love, a far off rocky shore
holding a lighthouse and ice for half
of the year. I don’t want warm air.
I just want this rolling fog to replace
each wrinkle like it will,
each limp without me knowing;
I want to erase you the same way
the water takes writing in the sand
away with its push and pull,
the same way it dissolves sand castles
and crabs and never feels a thing.
I want a place that is a long stay
summer home, to stare
into an unfamiliar blue window.
Inspired by Creative Writing Ink’s Photo Contest: https://creativewritingink.co.uk/writing-prompts/