Fifteenth summer vacation

Most people know that I studied English in college with an emphasis — really, it was more like a minor — in creative writing. My focus was writing tortured stories of teenage girls and women, still the audience I feel most compelled to write for. But today, as I was cleaning out our storage shed to actually make everything fit (which was its own special game of moving Tetris), I came across a bunch of poems that I’d written while I was in college.

I hated my poetry class. I mean, I truly hated it. Once, in fact, I walked out of the class in full-on tears because I was frustrated with the teacher. So needless to say, it put a major damper on my love of poetry. And then the following semester, after I’d had a few of my poems published in our school’s lit journal, my fiction writing teacher told me that I was a very good poet.

I shrugged it off because a) it was a college lit journal, not some national journal or magazine and b) I hated poetry. Seriously hated it. And c) of course they were decent poems — it wasn’t like I was submitting my crappy stuff.

But today, while I was cleaning out my shed, I came across a handful of poems that I’d written, which made me look through bunch of poems I have saved on my computer. All I can say is:

Man. I hated that class, but I love writing poetry.

I wanted to share a piece but decided not to pick some of my favorites because they’re the ones I would share any time. So this is one that I wrote while in college.

– – – – – – – – – –

Fifteenth Summer Vacation

You are my ocean,
seaweed tangling around my ankles,
wet and bubbly,
sand exfoliating my skin, the
smell of hot, dry summer days, and the
rush
of water rising through my spine as my
board makes its way to the shore.

You are the cloudy haze, the
islands I distantly swim to in dreams,
a chilled Corona angled in
the sand at high
noon, the salt sticking to my sunglasses,
water rinsing cool my legs
as I crack back the green pinstripped
lawn chair and sip in the day.

You are a sand dollar, its belly a cat’s tongue,
a seastar, five ways at once,
a season, the fluid
lines of sand
that wave to me, a
jetty, a pier, a picture on a postcard
and the fairgrounds
when the fireworks explode on the 4th of July.

You are a red tide, phosphorescent,
the way green divies to yellow-meets-blue at the horizon,
the smell of wet sand going down the drain,
crab shacks and sunsets in a beach house,

a sunburn that glows like a red tide
spanning my shoudlers,
peeling away to reveal something soft,
the squwak of a chased-away seagull,
rocks tumbling against the bones in
my legs, my shins
becoming sand,
a sand castle built from a red
bucket washing back.

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