chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: beach

found poem: her Christmas

found poem: Beach

found poem: this unsettled

found poem: RIDE



it’s rocks…


ringI was in college, home for a visit, and had gone to the beach. Along the shore there, in Santa Monica, the beach is miles long and perhaps 100 yards wide. Vast. The sand is deep and pale and fine, and, in summer, very, very hot.

I glanced down and there, just a few inches in front of my foot, half buried in the sand, was a silver ring. I picked it up. It was delicate and small, with a faint pattern etched into its surface. Without much thought, I sat down on the hot, dry sand, the waves shushing and crashing, shushing and crashing, and slipped the ring onto the second toe of my right foot. There it stayed, eventually creating a small callous at the base of the toe.

That was a long time ago, before people wore rings on every part of their bodies. Finger rings, yes, and sometimes a lot of them, but mostly people left their belly buttons and eyebrows and lips and tongues alone, and a ring in your nose meant that you were a native of some exotic culture from the pages of National Geographic, or a bull.

I did have one friend who wore a ring in her nose — a little gold hoop in her left nostril. It was shocking then, and terribly exotic. The ring was strung with a small red glass bead. Truly, it was a beautiful color and would catch the light, but always, always, no matter how often I saw her or how much time we spent together, my eyes were drawn to the bead and in a flash of panic, I’d think: blood.

I wondered about the little silver ring. Who had it belonged to before I found it? How much sand had sifted through its circle? What had caused it to fall off its original owner? I pictured a very young bride, with tiny fingers, or a teenager, not that much younger than myself, whose fingers were encrusted with rings. Perhaps a young man had entrusted the ring to the pocket of his swimming shorts, planning to give it to his girlfriend — a proposal, a promise — only to lose it, and perhaps her too.

I wore the ring on my toe for ten years. But eventually it had to go. I was working in an office and wearing grown-up shoes and and the ring would rub a little snag in the foot of my pantyhose that would turn into a run, right up the front of my leg. After a few more years the callous went away too.

I still have the ring. Sometimes, holding it in my hand, I’m whisked back to that day at the beach, and there it is again: tiny, circular, a wink of silver in the endless expanse of silvery sand.

trying to write…

sand crab AKA mole crabAs kids, at the wide, soft-sanded beaches of Santa Monica, we’d run after the last swish of each receding wave to collect sand crabs.

They were fast, disappearing into the near-liquid sand, leaving a dimple that turned into a tiny aperture. Plunging a hand straight down, we’d feel for the scuttling creature, then yank it up into the sunshine. On our palms, its busy legs tickled. We’d toss it into a little bucket with some sandy water and carry it around for a while, examining our captives with a child’s fascination. Then we’d up-end the bucket and watch the crabs dash, dig and disappear.

As I sit down to write, the sand-crab words scuttle across my mind and sink into the wet sand, leaving only a tiny, dark hole.
sand crab photo


Lifting her foot behind her, she twisted to look at the bottom of her heel. A glob of tar sat in the center of the pink pad, another smaller bit clinging to the arch. Lowering her foot, she glanced at the bottom of the other one, but it was clean.

She hobbled to the bathroom with the one foot on tiptoe, the other flat. An old bottle of cleaning fluid sat alongside the shoe polish on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet. She pulled off the metal cap and beneath it the bottle’s rough fabric scrub top was gray and coarse. Tipping the bottle to flood the top, she pulled her foot around into her standing lap and brushed at the tar. The black spots thinned, then vanished.

Her mother would be mad, she thought. She wasn’t supposed to use the brush on anything ‘dirty’ in case the color would come off on the next thing to be cleaned. That made perfectly good sense. But she hadn’t used or even thought about the bottle of cleaning fluid for years, and besides, she reminded herself, her mother was dead and this was just one of many small infractions in the grand scheme of failure they had mapped out for each other.

She thought about all the childhood trips to the beach and how they had almost always come home with tar on their feet. Where did the tar come from, she wondered. The beach was wide and deep and dry and almost too hot to walk on. Maybe it was the wet part, along the shore, where the waves lapped, or crashed, and swept up the shallow slope, and tiny sand crabs scurried to bury themselves before children’s hands could grab them. A small bucket with a dozen of the little sand-colored creatures that tickled when you held them in your palm, and that you’d eventually let go. They’d vanish beneath the sand, leaving a tiny hole that would itself vanish a moment later. They occupied the soft wet sand, where your feet would begin to sink as you ran from the hot dry shore into the cold water.

But above them, between the saturated sand and the dry beach, was the hard sandy shore, the footprints of shorebirds and dogs and barefooted running men impressed in the dark sand, but a child’s foot making no mark. There, she thought, that’s where we picked up the tar, I bet. Tar that oozed up from the ocean bed, from dinosaurs and sub-oceanic tar pits, to find and stick to their little pink soles…

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