We’ve reached the point where it is acceptable to talk
of the future: the dog we’ll have, the home we’ll live in,
the places we’ll go together. Two years now
and I still don’t know you very well, I think you’ll like
Mt. Rainier rising above you and the mossy San Juan Islands.
You still don’t know me, you think I’ll like the green neon
of the Vegas strip, days of shopping in Berkeley.

But this weekend we settle for your parents’ beach house,
walking the low-tide morning shore, pocketing sand dollars
broken by the sea, molding back into our bed by early afternoon.


One Christmas, I dropped the star for the top of our tree.
Gold, glittered, and fine, it broke into seven pieces
across our wooden living room floor, and my mother
screamed. It belonged to my Grandmother!
My god, how could you have been so clumsy?
While she howled, I found superglue,
sealed each delicate piece to the next, until it was
perfect enough for Jesus and my great-grandmother.
I showed her and she sighed:
I have never been able to fix things, I never try.
You sure didn’t get that from me,
you can fix everything that is broken.


When I woke up today, there was no sun,
so I walked without you, my bare heels pressed
further into the sand stretching muscles
cracking bones, feeling the light’s first rays
warm my neck, stepping delicately
around shells, to not break anything that
wasn’t mine to break. Now with my salty legs
in our bed, I turn towards your rising back,
imagine it as mountains, breathing peaks.
Your right shoulder blade, the Appalachians,
your spine, the Rockies, your left blade the heights
of the Sierra Nevadas. And now
I want to smooth out your living ridges,
lay each range flat, level, like the Great Plains,
press gently with sweet contempt, bitter want.


Before I showed you old Highway 86, the roads
to the Virginia routes, I used to ride them alone
in the mornings, leave my bike behind a tree
to tramp across frosted fields, cut brambles
to draw across my chilled white thighs,
leaving thin red lines, intricate and gratifying.
I would find frozen puddles and break their ice,
stand cold and unfeeling, rejoice in the cracking,
my numb pleasure from their fracture
more satisfying than your touch would ever be.


The sky pulls the sun higher now as we walk the waterline,
holding hands. You make an effort to step on shells,
crush them into the wet sand. The tide gathers the pieces,
hauls them back out to the ocean.
Why do you do that? I ask. To make more sand you say.

Like the world needs more sand, more broken things.
But here we are, breakers, waves, everything breaking.

— Charlotte Fryar

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