inside a wave

Except for the roar of rushing water, I was deaf. The roar of the waves filled my head as if it was all that I had ever heard.

I paddled forward out to sea, into the next boiling wall of white water rushing towards me. I pushed the nose of my surfboard down, trying desperately to avoid the cycle of the wave; the helplessness of being pushed down and pulled up and spun around in liquid noise. Waves are loud underwater too. With a kick, a claw, and a grasp I surfaced; twenty-or-so feet further back towards the violence of waves crashing on a rock jetty.

Lungs and arms burning, I reached deep within myself to summon my strength. Too much thinking and not enough doing. The next wave hit me hard, before I could take a deep breath. I came out the other side defeated.

I looked down through the crystal clear Hawaiian water and didn't think enough. I reached down with my feet in desperation, in fear, and stood up on the living coral. I knew right away that the coral had cut my feet; it wasn't pain, but the feeling of loose skin being moved by the water. My wounds made my choice for me.

I turned around, faced the jetty, and pulled myself onto my board. The next wave carried me to the rocks, generous in it's victory. I clung to the rocks.

My board in one hand, rocks in the other. Rocks in my feet. I climbed slowly and purposefully until I was out of the reach of the crashing waves. I smiled and laughed; it was quiet.

a trail

It was a beautiful Thanksgiving day in the Blue Ridge mountains, somewhere between Damascus, Va, and Shady Valley, Tn. The sky was light blue, with a kind of crisp clearity that only comes from cold weather and high altitude.

By mid November the trees had already lost most of their leaves so that on the way down the Creeper Trail you could see through the dense forest to the rocky faces of small clifs which faded into dense piles of leaves and underbrush punctuated with boulders, some larger than a house. Off of the trail, the slopes of the mountain were steeply set, sliding down into a river which thinned to a creek with the mountain's water still fozen at the dull peaks. The Creeper Trail itself is flat and relatively smooth, the worn gravel remains of old coal train tracks, with a gentle gradient meant to ease the burden of the old locomotives as they hauled their massive loads up and down the mountain.

The beauty of this Thanksgiving day beguiled the fridged temperatures; there were pockets of snow at the base of the barren trees leftover from the night before, even after noon. As still as possible Lia and I cruised down the mountain with burnt noses, rosey cheeks, and frozen fingers that burned at the tips beneath gloves too thin for the weather. We would look at each other and laugh, with a smile or a cringe, painfully giddy at the oddity of the circumstances.

The whizzing of bike tires approached us quickly from behind. Someone was flying down the mountain trail.

Too fast to catch her eye, my Mother passed in-between Lia and I and continued to rush down the mountain.

"I'm a frozen-robot," she cried!