Surfing Fear

 
thnx to Jane Shore (whose book, That Said, is in bookstores now)

 
When your home town’s a war zone and your backyard’s
full of graves, turn away from the television,
the view is better out your window.
Steel crumbles, concrete burns.
Look down from the mountaintop,
watch the black smoke rising.
Now you’re surfing, surfing that tubular wave.
And the wave― blindingly gorgeous,
awesome in an old-testament kind of way–
the kind of wave you wait for your whole life.
And while you’re right up in it, instinct takes hold.
Time moves in blocks– one moment, three
moments, then suddenly twelve.  And you’re
paddling toward it, intensely thrilled while
impairingly afraid, trying to turn your board, but
the wave catches you by surprise, washes over you.
So you’re ready for the next one– paddle hard, then harder–
now you’re in the tube, you feel the back-current catch, you
plant your hands, trying to rise up― but you’re off-balance―
the board’s back sinks, the front smacks you in the face,
and you fall backwards into the sea.
And your face is bleeding in the brine,
your nose is broken, the undertow pulls you out, away
from shore, deep and deeper.  Your body sinks,
your head throbs.  Your feet touch sand.  You crouch on
the bottom and thrust toward the surface.
Breaking through to air, you choke,
gasp, cough, your whole body sore
from lack of oxygen, but damn you’re alive.
And you relish the welts and bruises because
they’re real.  Lie back in the ocean,
watch the black smoke rising.
Once in a lifetime, this kind of wave.
Or if you’re very lucky,
every other day.

 

 

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