Here is the beach I stormed as a child. The sand is rife with memories and spirit.
My grandparents are here, still alive and vital and brimming with my history. My parents are here, still alive and still in love.
My first kiss was here. Right here where I’m sitting. Alma … Alma Sizemore. Our romance was about 45 minutes long and nearly 40 years ago, but I remember her name, her coal hair against her powder blue jumper, her face … and her kiss, which tasted of sea salt and Bubblicious watermelon gum.
The pier is gone. No shade for a young poet on a summer day, but its shadow is still cast long. Decades long. Slippery wood and barnacles, the whistle of the wind around taut fishing line. Grandpa Jack laughing hard and real, smoke trailing from his pipe.
“Buzzard, run get me lunch. Come back straight, don’t stop to read the comics.”
I sing ‘Desperado’ as a ritual. I change the names of the cards in the songs.
The sun is going down over the sound. I watch for a green flash, listen for the hiss as the water on the other side of the world extinguishes the day …
Sorry, Grandpa. I stopped to read the comics, and I played Asteroids. I stopped for kisses, and I sang to the sea. I danced in the sand and I followed my own road.
I miss You.
I didn’t come back straight: I came back ‘crookeder than hell’, but the journey is amazing. You’d all be proud of me, if your ghosts could see me. I just know you would.