like dolphins can swim

He looked so much like another man
Suntanned and aged with soft edges but also hard ones
And the receding salt and pepper that for some reason kills me and the old tattoos but not as many as the other man
And the easygoing but not chasing manner that always gets me dead
He had some quasi-fit swagger, shirtless in low-hanging cargos with no discernible underwear and the lines on his pelvis beckoned

I wanted to see him naked

He was staying at the same cheap motel where I was staying
Standing inside the gate of the tiny pool that abutted the parking lot where I’d just pulled in after a jaunt to the beach
He leaned over the gate, smoked a cigarette and held a bottle of beer, surveying the area
I noticed him immediately and sizzled inside for a love I can’t seem to stop losing
and I felt like he watched me park my car and as I got out and walked around the pool to the stairs that led up to my room

His face wasn’t quite the face but it was a nice face
He even wore the same kind of sunglasses that the other man wears
He had a beard
His nose was pointier
He was shorter

I vibrated as I made my way up three flights of stairs
Released a little moan as I entered my room that overlooked the pool
Ever so slowly shut the door to try to get a good glimpse of his face as I closed it

I felt cursed and blessed

Is he for me?

I dropped all my stuff in my room and stepped back out on my landing, still in my bathing suit hoping I looked cute
He looked up
I asked if the pool was still open
“We’re ok to use the pool?”
He smiled from the little pool
patio below
“What are they gonna do? Tell me no?”

He was all set up there with handyman gear (white plastic bucket with gray spackle and paint splotches) and - case of Miller lite and his sneakers and a JBL speaker (I know because I asked)

“Come on down!”

So I did
Three young, tough women also came by sporting tattoos (one had a semiautomatic linked to brass knuckles on her thigh)and Newports and resting bitchface that faded into giggles and shrieks when they felt the cold of the water
All of us hesitating to jump in like you do when you’re grown up and getting into something new

He and I made cheery small talk
Not fully flirting
he wasn’t giving me the vibe that mon obsédé sends at every contact
But I could feel something happening
I can always feel when it is
And I had to have something

The other girls left

The two of us played up-and-downstairs hellos
Until
he asked me out in a shruggy, nonchalant, whatever-happens-happens kind of delivery

WHO ME ?

I of course shruggingly and smilingly and nonchalantly accepted

We watched a sunset and talked about music and our homebases and the state of the world and complicated families
Ate seafood on the boardwalk and shopped for clothing we didn’t need, shocking the sales woman with our tale of happy random meeting
Had frozen custard and bought candy

We didn’t kiss or hold hands
He smokes too many cigarettes
I felt crazy chatty with a pandemic still raging and people still picking their noses in public

But at the beach on what felt like the absolutely official last day of my summer, some part of surrender was in progress

There was an uneasy ease about this that one or both of us both needed

Neither of us were trying to make a move
Our goodnight was neighborly

The next morning he knocked on my door
while I was on the toilet, saying my name as he knocked, which pleased me since he hadn’t said it since we introduced ourselves many hours earlier

We exchanged numbers and pleasantries
(I really had a great time last night)
And I gave him a hug

he was going to work and then home to upstate New York
I to pick up my son in Philadelphia

Our first and maybe last words to eachother (via sms)
I had a great time hanging out with you!
Yes! Me too!

So that’s no love story
but I love the beach, and I hadn’t been in three years
so maybe it was

For shore

It was all you wanted for days weeks months, two years, in fact.
It’s here.
You did it.
Made time
Took that time
Didn’t get dissuaded by screws in tires or a frustration-induced hangover or the apathy that would normally pin you to the couch
You got in your fucking vehicle and put in the effort

You aren’t as prepared as you would like
Forgot things
Hurried in order to stave off the indecision paralysis
Remembered for just a moment what it was like to be a teenager grabbing shit and running out the door because the destination was the most important thing
Not the crossing off of list items

It was loud when you parked your chair and hastily-packed bag and sprayed on some shield from the sun
The sound of crashing waves and wind are beautiful if not for the cacophony of other beach goers discussing NY celebs and 9/11
The air buds don’t do much to drown them out because some ladies cackle like you do
But you’ll endure it for sandy toes and a few speckled shells

And the missing piece is still felt
The non partner
The significant no one
The unknown lover
Nowhere to be seen
You’re here on the beach
But it’s just you
Table for one please
That familiar phrase feels like a forehead or neck tattoo
It shouldn’t matter
It shouldn’t hurt anymore
It shouldn’t register as a noticeable source of emotional pain
But like the sciatica that comes and goes at your age
It does.

Try to stay in this space where you brought yourself
Imagine taffy and cheese and dough and maybe some frozen custard with chocolate sprinkles and the sound of your feet plodding along the boardwalk (that Sandy tried to annihilate but humans are resilient about their vacation spaces are they not?)
Try to remember why you came
Because we don’t know what we have left
We have to live now
We have to look for the beauty
Appreciate what is still here for us
Despite all that crumbles

Try not to cry just yet
You have a room where you can do exactly that
It was what you wanted
And now you’re here
You’re here
You’re HERE

full of hot air

aren’t you proud of yourself

Wow what a way to start off a piece.

That’s the voice that’s starts off before you even write a word
because you got starry eyed reading prose poetry and learned for the first time what that might mean about the years of words steadily leaking out of you

and the poet paints pictures in your head of a pirate stashing away his dead wives
and you wonder how she knew to end a phrase on one line
instead of the other
and you imagine someone “professional” asking you how you came up with your own structures and you have NO idea
because you’ve been winging this all along

and while you’re in the soap scummy tub making the most of your sitz bath, naked reading poetry and feeling all artsy and interesting, the diastasis recti have caused your large intestine to shift to the right of your lower abdomen
filled with gas from chocolate ice cream and sugar cone
you’re going to have to expel some of that

you suddenly feel more like Charles Bukowski in a flop house in LA
than you do a moderately fit middle-aged woman laying in her bathtub holding a poetry book with dental floss resting loosely between her jaws like an old fishing line still hanging from a big catfish jaw

bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles

turn off the water bathing beauty
and go write something down so that all those farts have some meaning
get it all out
THAT’S something to be proud of

Four years

It doesn’t matter
They didn’t matter
I almost cringe when I see my little fixations
The momentary distractions
When you arrive
When new images of you fill my eyes
It begins anew
Behind the deepest desires and dreams and haunting
There is you

A song plays and a memory surfaces
Someone laughs
Someone is surprised
Someone has a regional accent
And I can feel the fur on your chest again
I can feel you in my mouth
I cry
I fail to break free
I will not let go under any circumstance
Because you will not let me

These days pass
So many
My perpetual homme-based stasis
Is it some kind of sick bliss?

You will not come
You will not go
You will not put a foot down and release me
You will not slip an arm around my now small waist and embrace me as you should have four years ago
You will not declare anything

So I’ll wait
Until death
Until it’s clear that love has finally blossomed in some other meadow
Until something shiny draws me away for long enough that the dust can finally settle
Until maybe someone different and unexpected slips an arm around my waist and claims me for good
And even then there will be no permanence
Until you close the door on me

…a perfect song. Fight me.

One gesture

Makes me possession
Makes me possessed
Freezes time
Burns fine cobwebs away that had gently begun to form after four months of silence
Stirs rich, luxurious memories
Sets imagination on a runaway course to fantasies of love and lust and perfect resolution
Narrows focus to a pinpoint
Spreads my legs and heart open wide to the mere idea of his smile
Brings tears to my eyes
Fills my throat with mewling noises and whispers
Starts a ticking clock
Stops the incremental healing
Erases offenses
Draws possibilities
Leaves me struggling with questions
…so many questions

Who acts like this about something so infinitesimally insignificant?
What do I do next?
When is he coming back?
Where is he right now?
Why now?
How do I walk the earth knowing he is present again?
Does this mean return is imminent?
Will he?
Is he?
Can we? Finally?

It was nothing more than a virtual nod
It was a nonchalant acknowledgment of fact about a Smithereens song