Beach Combing (Happy Birthday Beth!)

Photo by cottonbro on

First of all, Happy Birthday to my longest, dearest friend, Beth. I rarely write poems about one person. It’s usual a series of events, a quote from one person combined with other stuff. It’s rarely about one person, in particular. Last year, due to the pandemic, I was not able to see my best friend on her birthday. I wanted to be able to give her something, as she is one of the most caring, giving people I know. I had a poem called “Lilacs,’ which was loosely based on an afternoon we spent together years ago when she lived in California, and I was visiting. The poem turned into a poem I posted on this site called the ‘Floriography of Friendship,’ which I posted at the top of the blog because if you haven’t read it, you should. It’s about an amazing person, who has been ‘my person,’ since we were middle school kids. I don’t say it lightly, but Beth is always there for me. I know she always will be there for me. One of the most amazing things of having a life long friend is you get to witness each other grow and change. In order to be life long friends with someone, you have to welcome and accept their growth and change. You have to grow together. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to have a friend that not only accepts my growth and change, but to be able to witness her growth and change. She has become a dedicated wife and an amazing mother to her two children. She loves in ways I don’t think I even know how. Last year, I wrote a very specific poem about our friendship. I was sort of lost on what I would do/share for this year. This morning, I took a walk and remembered a poem I wrote for a book called “The Daisy Dance.” The book is actually a narrative book of poems about two friends, who are both at crossroads in their personal lives. Many of those poems, I haven’t shared on this site because they are part of a greater narrative. They stand better together than they do alone. There is one poem in that book that time and again when I’ve shared things, done readings, and/or put feelers out to close groups of friends/writers that somehow stands alone and is always rated as a ‘favorite poem of mine.’ The poems I’m closest to are always the hardest poems to let go of. This is a poem I’ve always been proud of and loved for many reasons. Although Beth is not one of the two main characters in the book, she is what inspired this poem. The poem comes at a time in the book when the two main characters are lost. They are both heartbroken and they meet up in San Francisco. The inspiration behind the poem is, on one of the many occasions I was lost or heartbroken, I went to see Beth, who was always the most gracious, fun host. Her and her now husband Danny once let me camp out in their tiny studio bedroom apartment for over a week as I waited for my vehicle to get shipped to Hawaii. That’s just the type of people they are. Anyway, the line that inspired this poem and scene in the book of poems occurred during one of my trips to see Beth in California. There was a lot going on in my life, and I had some hard decisions to make. I will always remember Beth just looked at me and said something to the effect of of, “I’m taking you to the beach. You always need the beach. It’ll remind me you of what you need.’ The way she said it, her determination to get me there, it’s always stayed with me. She was correct. My sign sign is Pisces. My rising sign is Pisces. I’m a Scorpio moon. I have water all over my natal chart. Years earlier a Cherokee man I had befriended in North Carolina, told me, “When I have to make a decision, go down to a creek or stream early in the morning, and my answer will be there.’ Beth knows me so well the second she saw I was doubting myself, she took me to where I always find clarity and grace, by the water. I remember we weren’t sure if here car was going to make it. The roads were long and winding. She, herself, hates driving, but she did that day because she knew I needed it. When I was thinking of what to share, how to honor her on her birthday, I thought of this poem. Again, it’s a poem I love dearly, so I always thought I will save it for a very special occasion. I can’t think of a more fitting or better occasion than to celebrate the birthday of my dear friend, who I would be lost in this world without. This year we will get to have a celebration, which I am incredibly excited and thankful for. Still, I want to honor my friend who has stuck by me through all these years (which is probably not easy). Friendship is one of the most amazing relationships that exist. It’s one of the few relationships in our life that we ‘constantly choose,’ to be in with someone. I am so glad she has chosen to be my friend. I’m amazingly lucky to have her and to have had her for almost my entire life. Today, I share this poem in honor of her. I can’t think of a better day to share it. Happy Birthday, Beth! I wish you a wonderful year ahead and look forward to actually getting to see you this year and create many new memories. Thank you for always ‘getting me.’

Beach Combing

You can comb the beach for treasures at any time of the year,
but after the storms is best. Rock pooling with our jeans rolled up,
you hold up sea star and say they’re like miniature worlds of their own.
The tide will be out for only a few more hours,
and come moonrise this moment like the sun will fade.

Such little pools of still water, holding so many creatures inside them.
The birds above feed on the exposed bowls of wildlife.

You laugh as you misstep and the water rolls over your jeans.
The wind shifts and I raise my hoodie over my ears.
We shiver and continue to move from tide pool to tide pool.

I tell you about a poem I wrote years ago,
when this girl I love took me to the shore
and reminded me, it is always the beaches we stay for.

You laugh, “And it’s always the beaches that wash us away.”

Someday I’ll be in my apartment with water swishing in my mouth
and I’ll think about the way we became part of seaside that afternoon,
when the tide was out to sea
and there was no woman quite made for me
and no man for you,
and I’ll be reminded of that silly afternoon
when the landscape became the lover we longed to know
reflected in those clear, still tide pools.

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