[The first line is from Outside Monterey by Joseph Miller.]
The ocean whispering beside me in the darkness,
letting me in on a secret I waited my whole life to hear.
How much I wanted to know;
how wistful I was for something I’d never experienced.
I opened my eyes to screen windows that looked out on the jellyfish-filled bay,
bare feet on the old wood floors leading to the outdoor shower,
its door low enough for me to study the laundry hanging on the line.
Sand fell from my shorts, as if I collected it in my pockets on purpose.
I remember reading Dostoyevsky at night and suffocating in the heat of no air-conditioning,
watching movies and taking solitary bike rides.
The sea was too cold for me to swim, but the local kids were used to it.
I could only take pictures.
Years later a hurricane would destroy so much,
the bay filled with worse things than jellyfish.
I was gone by then, the summer I spent there just a memory of salt.
But there are moments when I can still hear that ocean whispering in the darkness,
reminding me that nothing is permanent;
none of us can stay the same forever.
Everything becomes something else.