March 30, 2015

On Healing and the Beach


For as long as I can remember, the beach has been a healing place for me.

Except that once. I was raped on the beach when I was a little girl…by my half-sister’s boyfriend.



she had

conversations with God

when her world

was Barbie dolls

giggles, hide-and-seek

and pigtails

then, a grown-up man

a Vietnam Vet

took her

to the deserted cove

of a beach

the gulls

the crabs

the Pacific waves

and the Cove Who Saw All

tried to save her

and she lost God

since then

she searches the shores

and her hurricane-ravaged mind

through all the


for any sign

sifting through sand

and shifting dunes

in between the ribs

of bleached bones

in the rusty echos

of sea shells

and frosted gifts of glass

she thinks she hears him

in the tearing of her heart

in the blue, blue sky

in her lovers creased thigh

in the fat man’s white lie

the one who eats ice cream

to opera

while he stands

in the waves and waves


in all things awry

in the sound

of the kelp

as it screams her name

she was sure it was him

but found instead

decaying flesh

of the flying fish

the fisherman left

to rot

she once looked

in the locket

of her heart

finding only ashes

and sharp


and when finally

he came to her


and knocked

she gazed out the window

and refused

to answer

Other than that one time, I have hundreds of beautiful memories of the beach. That time scarred me, but it didn’t make me hate the beach.

I walked on the beach this morning. And thought of my sister. It’s her birthday today. And we’re thousands of miles apart.


The day was perfect. And tempted, like I always am when I’m on the beach, I collected sun-bleached bones, bits of broken shells, colorful as an African sunset, chipped pieces of pottery, pale blue, purple and pink, frayed lengths of orange and turquoise rope – pulled from snowy-white powdery sand, sparkly sea glass and pieces of plastic. All of it trash to some people, but exquisitely enticing to me.

I’m going to make something from it all.

Something beautiful.

And I think of myself. And all of the unwanted trash. The garbage that other people forced into my life.

And the word force makes me think. I was not held down. There wasn’t a gun, or a knife. I knew the man. I even might have had a childhood crush on him. How could I not? He’d paid so much attention to me, and I was desperate for that. So it was force by manipulation, by coercion, by a slow grooming of me.

And I didn’t know it was wrong.

I grew up never realizing that I was sexually abused. It was so deeply buried I never thought about it. And the word rape? I’m just now able to say that. And I’m 52-years-old.

So, there I was, around 10-years-old, with forced garbage into my young world. Trash that I twisted around into my own self-loathing.

But that trash that once burned inside me as a deep self-hatred, and that pushed its way out as promiscuity, numbing, drug use and so many self-destructive behaviors it frightens me is twisting once again.

I’m going to take that trash and make something beautiful out of it.

I’m going to create Art.

I’m going to write and write – poetry, prose, spitting out the hateful words and letting it heal me.

And others. I hope.

Hope. That’s what this trash has turned into.

A sparkling hope.

Someone else’s garbage.

Will be my art.

I’ll scream it out.

In the most brilliant colors.

Like the frayed turquoise rope and the pale pink pottery and the gem colored sea glass and the snowy white sun-bleached bones.

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