THOUGHTS WHILE WALKING ALONG THE BEACH
Walking along the beach today I was reminded of the time
a friend told me he was sitting in the sand, relaxing, when
all of a sudden a woman appeared and started walking into
the ocean completely clothed. He said he was a bit surprised
that someone would walk into the ocean fully clothed, but
at the time, he just sat there and watched until she had gone
out so far that he could no longer see her. After a couple
of minutes my friend rose to his feet and told some people
walking by what he’d just witnessed and they said to call 911
immediately. The police, along with a rescue team arrived
about 15 minutes later, and immediately the rescue team
went into the water to look for her. As it turned out, it wasn’t
until the next day that they were able to find her body. My friend
emphasized that it didn’t ‘register ’at the time what she was up to.
He thought this was partly due to the fact it was a sunny day and
that lots of people go into the ocean on sunny days in San Francisco.
On a few occasions I have put myself in my friend’s place and
imagined how I would have dealt with the situation. I’m not a
a very good swimmer, so if she had gone into the water past
my comfort zone all I would have done was call the police like
my friend did, but if I had ‘registered’ immediately what she was
up to, I certainly would have gone after her, grabbed her by the
waist, and pulled her back to shore. I would have done this even
though throughout my life I have thought of doing the same thing,
but in completely different ways.
As soon as I fell, I curled into a fetal position and waited.
Nothing had meaning any longer. I felt no jealousy of
those who were leading exciting, productive lives and were
always around to tell me so. Fortunately I had stuffed my
ears with cotton, and put tape over my eyes before I left the
house. I knew something would happen, I just didn’t know
what or when. I lay there even as hands probed my body
to see if I was still alive. I remembered the time I went to
the park on a foggy day, so foggy I couldn’t see more than
a few feet in front of me. I spread my jacket on the grass
in front of a tree, sat down, and stared out into what looked
like gray smoke everywhere. Shapes began to appear that
looked like hands, feet, and legs, until I saw that a huge ship
was coming toward me with people waving and throwing things
into the air. I got on the ship and someone asked if I’d ever
been happy, to which I replied, “I don’t even know the meaning
of the word!” They let me off in front of my home and I crawled
back into bed. I tried to block out the sad thoughts that were
emerging, but I knew it was impossible. I lay there until I felt
myself lifted and dropped onto some piece of metal with wheels.
Finally I wound up here where I’ve been for longer than I can remember.
THE BEST ANSWER
At some point yesterday while communicating with my 96 year
old mother at her 24/7 care facility she asked me if I’d seen her
mother and I wrote down that I stayed with her for a week about
35 years ago at her home in Flint, Michigan. And my mother
responded, “My parents were the most wonderful people who ever
lived; so kind and thoughtful. Never said a bad word about anyone.
And how about my father, have you seen him?” And I wrote that
I saw him when I was about seven years old, but that I really can’t
remember him. And then she asked about the house in which she
grew up, if I could take her there right now, to which I responded that
it was cold outside and I didn’t think it would be good for her to go out,
but maybe another day. And then she asked about certain friends of hers,
if any of them were still around, to which I shrugged my shoulders —
the best answer I could give her.
IN THE DREAM
I’m back in my old bedroom at my parents’ house
at the age I am now.
In the center of the room is a huge black spider
clinging to a pole.
Seeing the spider makes me afraid, but I decide
not to do anything for the moment except observe it
from a safe distance.
I sit down on my bed facing the spider and study it
As the minutes pass, it seems that the spider is growing
larger and larger.
This makes me more afraid because I wonder what
I’m going to do if the spider grows large enough to
At some point the spider begins to defecate blood
that drips down onto the carpet.
“Now is the time!” I decide, and pick up a book from
a nearby table.
I move to within a few feet of the spider and throw
the book onto its back.
It falls to the floor, and immediately I stomp on it.
As spider parts and blood fly in all directions, I shut
my eyes tightly.
I awaken in a panic, my pajamas and pillow soaked
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and percussionist who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of his writing comes out of his struggle with depression, sadness, and grief. He has published five chapbooks including Zable’s Fables with an introduction by the late, great Beat poet Harold Norse. Current writing in Coe Review, Lullwater Review, Kentucky Review, Tule Review, Serving House Journal, Chaos Poetry Review, 2015 Rhysling Anthology, Indigo Rising, Inflectionist Review, Blue Bonnet Review and many others.