The Waves

by Rich Boucher


I am waiting here until I can understand
what the waves are saying to me.

The wind can get as cold as it likes here;
the sky can let itself turn into a late blue night;
beaches don’t have clocks so I’ll never know what time it is;
the Moon can be a spotlight on me here
until the man in the rising Sun comes to turn it off;
everything about the world can do its thing
but I am not leaving here; I will not go
until I can make some sense out of what the waves are saying,
and I know they are saying something to me;
I just want to know what it is for sure.

All my life I have had to sit and learn the lessons
that everyone felt it was their life’s mission to teach me:
you are safe; you are loved;
this is the way you feed yourself;
you hold a fork like this;
you bring the food to your mouth and chew;
this is how you say “mother”;
this is how you say “father”;
you tell your mother you love her
and you tell your father the same thing;
you sing on your birthday
and you sing on the birthdays of the ones you love
and now you have to go away from home
and learn things at a building called a school
and you will do this for many years
until you can call your world by its given name,
until you can name the neighbors of your world,
until you can count until you can’t count anymore,
until you learn how important it is
that things happened, and people happened hundreds of years
before you ever thought to cry the tears of your birth;
your teachers will be like your parents
except that the world will not allow them to love you
as much as your parents are allowed to,
and you will learn things at buildings called schools
until you know about the music of history
and the history of God and all his family
and how he became the president

and you will learn things like this for many years,
except for the summers, except for the summers
when you will be allowed to daydream under trees
and then swim, and then run, and then run in the woods,
and then get away from where the Sun can see you,
and then taste someone else’s skin for the first time
and I have learned all these things already
in all of this life of mine that has gone by,
and I am not happier for the time I have spent
in those buildings, and in those woods,
and if today was the day I had to die
everything would be oncoming traffic
careening the wrong way;
everything would be a hungry and lost dog
looking at you and wondering why you will not feed it
because no one in my life,
not one lover, not one teacher,
no one has taught me
what it is that the waves are saying
and I just know it in my heart;
I can hear the possibility of it
in the rush of the hot red sands
in that hourglass I contain
that if I could understand all the shhhhhh
maybe I could talk back to the sea;
maybe I could ask the sea about pain,
all the questions I still carry
without their answers,
all these rusted, unanswered chains
that weigh me down
as I walk through my life;
these chains that have made me like stone,
made me way too heavy
to ever be an angel.

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