The Best Place I've Ever Been
Well, here it is, finally. My response to the travel prompt. I am posting it quite unedited, quite hopeful that someone out there will help me tighten it up. Anybody? As always, thanks for reading!
The Best Place I’ve Ever Been
In answer to the strange man with the 10-gallon hat
who asked me
as I daydreamed
in front of a glossy little piece of Jamaica
in the travel agency window,
one hand on the stroller,
one hand collaring a four-year-old,
the best place I’ve ever been
is caught just off center in a glossy 4x6.
I was there yesterday,
visited last week.
I am still there today.
Frozen in the cool smooth
surface of a moment in time,
captured in a late summer’s leap
from shore to ocean.
The destination on my ticket is here,
frozen eternally blissful in mid-spin.
The jangling tags on my luggage read:
pulled out of the ocean for an instant,
plucked from the waves
like some fully clothed mermaid,
one toe hold from sea.
Strange these places I have traveled,
never leaving the flatness of the photograph.
It isn’t the place I hold dear,
one or another empty beach in Fall.
It is the sand still beneath my feet,
the salty midday sun still caking my cheeks,
It is the wind tingling
motion of it all.
The great lengths my arms stretched
as I spun in circles,
raced sharp-edged waves
out and followed them back in.
It is that sun-bleached day, that freedom,
that bearable lightness of being,
the power of knowing I alone am wrestling the waves
I alone am making love to the ocean,
but just off to the right,
just out of the frame
is someone to reel me in when the pull is too much
when I have breathed too deep of the salty air.
Someone taking a picture,
making this day, this reeling mermaid, history.
I am still there today,
cold spray of water still soaking
the soles of my Keds,
still dampening the rolled cuffs
of my faded jeans.
But when I turn to the man in the 10-gallon hat
to show him the water all around me,
he is gone,
his Stetson casting shadows at someone else’s feet.