I grew up in the Midwest, as far as possible from any ocean.
I might have withered in the parched heat of the Plains, but my family headed East for the summers, where a day without a dip in the lake bordered on shameful.
Still, as close as we were, we seldom made it to the seashore, but if and when we did…
I wandered along the water line, icy water creeping unexpectedly underfoot,
The undertow sucking sand from beneath me;
Greedy surf clearing the shore of footprints, emptying the mind of everything but the present.
I looked for shells with perfect holes bored in their bellies from countless trips across the sea floor.
I looked for bits of seaweed, and crabs, and little fish trapped in tide pools.
But what I gathered and hid in my pockets were the stones which had been worn smooth by the relentless drive of the tides,
From being tossed and raked across the beach,
But honed and solid,
Warm in my hand,
Ready to skip.
It reminds me through the long winter chill
That the elements conspire to make us beautiful and strong.