The Battle

I think my son and his cousins are battling with the ocean.

I suppose it because they have been throwing rocks at it for an hour.

The oldest on a boulder, soon to be swallowed by the tide.

They run into the sea like a clumsy game of dodgeball.

They are losing.

The waves crashing into them, around them, everyone out at once.

Still, they retreat and throw themselves into it, retreat, throw themselves into it again.

Shrieking, laughing.

 

I want to write them into an odd victory.

Isn't that the point?

Imagining ourselves as champions,

crafting meaning out of senseless attacks?

 

I can't do it, of course.

Partly because I am preoccupied with redefining the war

and partly because today I'm unconvinced they will ever win

and partly because I am picking apart their tactics,

wondering if the weight of one of the rocks will break them

 

But mostly because they look so happy.

Three dots on the coast, full of significance,

all the pride of their parents incarnate.

 

Maybe it's not a battle at all.

Maybe they are just throwing rocks into water

the way you throw a ball for a dog

or you throw the game for a friend

or you throw your voice into a valley

or you throw your heart into a hurricane.

 

Sometimes fear makes a country out of me

and I worry nothing that leaves will return.

 

Surely we'd rather live like this:

Our family by our side.

A stumbling anthem,

gleeful perseverance,

small but limitless,

mighty and sincere.

 

Joyfully opening the borders along everything we touch.