She’s Not Here

by Pamela Goode

Photo and Sculpture by Micheal Pardue

On the beach and far from phones and computers, my thoughts turn like homing pigeons to laundry lists of tasks both real and imagined, and I wonder peevishly how long it will be so. How long before the wind shakes me silly and the sun evaporates every drop of logic until my cranium is hollow, bone dry and thirsty for folly and impulse?

The ocean is tricolor today: aqua near the sand, then teal, with a thin navy stripe that hugs the horizon. How do I move from the frothy edges to the navy depths? Why am I stuck in minutiae?

I’m willing to wait, but I’m anxious. Maybe eager is the better word, but anxiety lurks. I love the deep. I live for the deep as much as life allows, and in this instant when life is handing me an unexpected gift of time and sand and sea, I struggle to be here now.

If I tilt my head just so, I feel the heat of the sun on my left cheek and a sea-cooled breeze against my right, and it charms me to learn that two divergent climates can co-exist on my one small head. I think two lives are spent here as well.

In truth, the voice that pulls at me is not minutiae, and therein lies the rub.

I could stretch myself flat in the sun by the sea quite joyously for every day of the years I have left, until my brain is so bereft of new stimuli that I begin to grow worlds in its place, and I sometimes wonder if that is precisely the life I was made for. Egos crushed like periwinkle shells into smears of yellow or purple against the sand, hair blown wild into a wooly nest for puffins, with skin the color of night, the texture of winds, quite pockmarked with stars and story.

Instead, the sun teases the too-well-known out of us for only moments at a time, until some trivial matter demands our attention and we leap, almost grateful for permission to return to the safety of the familiar, that easy cloak (tired, worn) that fits so effortlessly even though we meant to trade up so many resolutions ago.

The truth is that I’m experiencing a major life-shift, and I don’t yet understand how to walk it. Given the hours to stare into nothingness, understanding will come, but the days that have filled and will fill out this year have not been slated for me; my diligent attention is called for elsewhere and I am honored to give it. One day there will be time and presence to spare, and I will surely miss today. And so for now, I’ll try to make peace with not letting go.

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