It's been a little over two months since the hurricane veered many of our lives off their tracks. In Long Beach one of the most visible and tangible ways that we can see the toll the storm has taken is by the destruction of our beloved Boardwalk.
Those first few days after the storm cleared many of us saw our own personal suffering, the loss of irreplaceable mementos and our ravaged homes in every tear to our historical treasure, a lifeline for our community. At the memorial held recently as demolition begins on the Boardwalk, I thought it was time I added some new verses to my earlier Boardwalk poem. I've loved seeing everyone sharing their memories of all the fun and sometimes misadventures we've had (I'm looking at you, LBHS alumni).
This poem though isn't an end but a prologue for the next amazing chapter yet to come as we rebuild the boardwalk and our beautiful city. So here it is - the earlier version which I've obnoxiously posted all over the place is here: The Boardwalk Poem
Turns out I've still got a few unfortunate lofty phrases in me that I can't blame on my youth - apologies again - see you all at the beach soon!
p.s. the original version posted of this addendum is here
.The Boardwalk: Prologue Calm
We said goodbye to you without knowing it.
While workers rolled along picking banners instead of cherries
from their lifts we filled every space, sat on every bench set for those who've gone ahead.
News crews swarmed, thick cables left in their wake, as they reported their version
of our story to the folks at home.Leaving would be the wise choice
but we could not go.
And the skies darkened,
and the sea swelled, her loud
waves breaking in one last desperate attempt to tell us what was coming.
We surfed, we drank, unflappable soldiers facing an impossible battle,
languishing in the last peaceful moments.
We were all captains of this ship.
I ran your length one last time
without admitting its finality.
I traced you from end to end, you, our spine. Once you belonged to Reynolds
alone, now our sprawling backbone connecting everything we held dear.
The rain started. We turned to go.
"So long for now, sweet friend."Surge
Everything went wet.
The sea rose to find her
Juliette stealing her way
to meet the bay at Park.
In their furious passion the wind howled
a plague on all our houses.
Everything went dark.
We would soon learn how easy it was to do without light--
less feared than the sparks and sirens breaking up the starless night.
When the heat fled, when the water tormented us to understand
what that Ancient Mariner once felt when his crew cried,
"water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink"
We do not know who killed the albatross but we all bore his weight
in the weeks once the land returned to us, everything imbued
with the salt and sand we called our own.
But we bore the weight together and so we wore it well.
We weep for the warped photos, the ripped sheet rock, our boardwalk dashed to pieces.
We give back the salt from ourselves as an admission that we are both sea and man.
Reflected in drying tears we do not need to hide from our neighbors
lies what Reynolds built for us with each wooden board
those beautiful elephant tusks brought to our shores.
Safe within collective chants--
"we will rebuild,"
"bruised not broken,"
within every small kindness and tall task shared together lives
that illimitable spirit
so much grander than two-point-two.
Faith and fortitude, sweet friends,
we will see it before us again someday soon,
but for now remember
Reynolds' dream rests with you and the sand in your shoes.