You Are

*
You are at the beach
on vacation, taking a stroll,
and the water is sparkling in the way it does, very green,
and accompanying you on your walk,
rather unexpectedly,
is the shadow of yourself dancing,
maybe from the nightclub on this vacation
or another,
a happy shadow, considering it’s yours.
And with you also are other shadows, lurking,
the mechanic who overcharged you,
your boss who critiqued your work unfairly,
the lost shoe, the neighbor’s dog.

Then the dancing shadow
comes up to you from behind
and touches you lightly.

Who are you now?

*
You are a youth at the beach
and life is filled with hope
and barely containable energy
for one minute,
as you think about putting your arm around
the person lying next to you,
though suddenly
you think about the other people
in that person’s life,
the competition for your future,
the confusion every day
when you step outside your parents’ door.

Then your companion touches you lightly.

Who are you now?

*
You are a baby playing in the sand
and splashing in the water,
so light that if you could think
beyond the moment
you’d worry that the salty breeze
would pick you up and carry you into the sky,
spinning.
But inside you is already the kernel
of a burden,
of your parents and their parents
and those who came before,
breaking people like breaking waves,
beaten and beating,
and the frustrations of your life
that will take on greater and greater significance
as if they will grind your bones
and break your heart,
leaving you deadened
and alone,
an ultimate loneliness.

Then someone touches you lightly

with the message that the pain you feel
is not your fault.

Who are you now?

 

 

Tulúm, Mexico
2/18/00