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Where the Sea Meets the Sand

Martha Brownill

Pinstriped waves run in bars before me. A grey sky sits atop with narrowed eyes. The palette is bleak and coarse this morning, all awash in thick-set opacity in the dullest shades. I smell the nasal spice of seaweed, pasted to the shore.

It’s not true that one forgets the summer sun come winter’s walk. In my mind’s eye the sand still blazes, where here it slumps saturated and sticky. Where the past has pooled cataracts in my vision, I look out at a sea frothy with bobbing children. I blink, and now its bloodless limbs flail to touch the coast. The drawing tides and the bisected seasons reveal in their palm the double-sided coin of youth and age at which in one flip a face is lost forever. Yet here, I can swim hither and thither in the silvery film between an irretrievable loss and a deafening present. Where clouds obscure the sun in the sky, a subterranean moon rises in its place. In the halls of the annals of time there hangs a double portrait; and while Janus may have two faces, he has but one head.

Parallel lives can coexist here. Here where feet, once small now big, tramp the same shore, wince at the same water, and drink the same sun. But I wonder now how many grains of sand remain from sepia-days. What new water licks at the bay where I stand? What passage of time, unbeknownst to my desperate eye, forbids my return even in sun-soaked memories? And what difference does it make, if the beach is brand new and the waves from fresh and foreign shores, when some things stay the same only by changing?

I stand before the sands: forever the same, forever renewing.

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