Next to the Waves

A Talk with Loek Schönbeck – Typographer, Sculptor, Crafter of Tombstones
November 19, 2017
November 19, 2017

Next to the Waves

Great is the moon
The ocean its loyal servant

creating and destroying
in the same wave

They sink ships and promise freedom
to those lost in the expanse

I fell onto my bed this morning and realized
there isn’t a grain of sand in my room

Let’s ride our bikes off into the sunset
and swim to the moon’s edge

Let’s float there and surrender ourselves

We could find peace consumed by the calm
then find our way to shore by the light of the bonfire

The laughter of friends left behind

Take my hand, pay no mind to the gravel between our toes
soon it will be sand and we can lay there

carving our names into the rock

But the markings will fade and the tide will rise,
sweep us off the sand bar, smother the fire

spit us out with a crash

We’ll stumble home before dawn
wearing our memories and sand

Salt water stained floorboards wear their age well

The nails, well blackened with rust
have already kissed the sea once,
so the idea of drifting once again
into its embrace feels familiar and safe;

a good death

Until then, they bask in the warmth
and crackles of the fire as another log is thrown on
They dance with Paul Chambers’ double bass
and their company is appreciated

It’s August 18th, storm season is coming soon

It was Irene who stole the ocean

Masquerading as a prophet of the moon
she whispered tales of power and freedom
to the waves

She claimed the moon willed a storm

The ocean was tricked, and let
Irene and her legion of waves grow
and head west, towards land

Her reign lasted nine days

When the moon finally shone through the eye of the storm
from its peephole it saw what had been done

My fingers glide across the worn pews as I walk to my seat

December is burning out and the town has been rebuilding,
but the church, placed atop a hill, was safe
The wooden seawall betrayed us and was washed away,
but in this pew, the old wood emanates comfort

It feels the same as last year

After the carols are sung, a silence sweeps into the room
as everyone is lost in prayer
Without much faith I sit awkwardly
a lone witness to the lights fading away

The night is welcomed in

And the candles, held tightly in everyone’s hands, are lit
Flames are carefully passed down from grandparents to children
from wives to husbands
across rows of childhood friends

The lights are out yet the room is illuminated

Little by little
By everyone
Each a small but crucial part
Of the light

As everyone filed out of the service,
I walked back to the ocean
and began to build

I built a town in the sand with
a main street, hosting a movie theater
and a diner, where grandparents got breakfast

Sprawling collections of houses
neighbors shared drinks on porches
as their children climbed little sand trees outside

Piers jutting out into the ocean
from which kids could do backflips into the sea
and men could cast off lines and find fresh dinner

A church on a mound of sand
and even a sand seawall that went
on for miles and was beautiful in its detail

With my little town finished,
I stripped down and jumped
into the December water

The frigid waves pulsed
with the slightest heat from the summer
and glimmered with the light of the sunrise as I left

By morning my little town was gone
and looking at the grains of my fallen masterpiece
I couldn’t help but laugh

I can learn to forgive the ocean
I miss finding sand in my bed anyway