POEMS


Gray Lady Down

I duck dove and tried to scramble for safety.  I was too far inside to paddle over the feathering lip so I had to go under.  It was a lot of water and I was terrified.  I surfaced from beneath the frothy white soup and another peak was ready to crash on my head.  She was a big green mountain of sea water and wasn’t playing any games.  My breath was short from my previous escape and I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  Not that there were any options.  I duck dove again but avoided little.  The second set was more powerful than the first, and my ability to dive deep while I straddled my eight foot board was about effective as outrunning a group of afterschool bullies.  The swirling current and breaking wave tossed me about like a dirty sock in a commercial Maytag.  I was held under longer that time and needed to remind myself not to panic.  “Just go with it,” I said to myself while I was being assaulted by the forceful ocean tide.  “You still have some breath left,” I said to myself while trying not to freak out.  Then she stopped having her way with me and my head breached the surface.  I shoved my face towards the sun and gulped for air before I opened my eyes, and when I did another set was about to break on top of me.  I may as well have been looking down the barrel of a twelve gauge shotgun, locked and loaded and ready for business.  It was the third wave and my body was weak and my spirits were weaker.   I had lost grip of my board so I didn’t need to duck dive.  I took one last giant swallow of oxygen like a Japanese pearl diver and dove down before Triton’s hell broke loose.  I figured if I could make it beneath the turbulence I’d have a chance.  My calculations were accurate.  It was easier avoiding being tossed around and made it back up to the surface with less incident.  I was caught inside and there was a strong side current, a rip tide moving quicker than I cared to endure.  All I could do was wait out the breakers and when the timing was right paddle like a mother back outside towards the boat.  A lull finally came and I mustered every ounce of energy I had left and made a beeline towards the panga.  I was fifty yards away from our small fishing craft and thought to myself: “I went to bed last night feeling ambivalent about another day of surf.  After four straight days in the water, the morning session felt like more than I wanted, needed, or should have thought of chewing off.

I’ve been wrestling with the Image Demons since I arrive in Nicaragua.  What do I need to prove, show or be acknowledged for?  Truth of the matter is, I like to surf but I’m not a “surfer.”  The surfer dude is an image I’ve been using that is inaccurate. 

By the second day in Nicaragua, I concluded that surfing more than two hours a day is not what I enjoy doing.  And I don’t enjoy beach breaks, or crowds, or the hot sun beating down on my Ashkenazi skin.  Surfing six hours a day would be called an addiction by some.   

I’m sitting alone in the Panga now writing my thoughts, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t preoccupied with what people think of me.  Hell, I’m an approval junky out the gate.  But I have less shame today than I would have in the past because I know I should be scared of waves that are larger than I think I’m capable of surfing. 
When I made it closer to the boat, our guide Wes began un-strapping the extra boards anticipating I was coming back for different equipment.  I waved to him: “Stop.”  I wasn’t coming in for a board change.  I was coming in because my testicles had shrunken to the size of a dried garbanzo bean, and I was just the other side of wetting my pants.

I had both hands on the boats ledge and began to pull myself aboard out of the drink and was greeted by Wes’s puzzled face.  I said to him: “I’m sitting this session out.”  He smiled and asked: “Did you get rolled over?” And I answered: “Yeah, it’s a little too spooky for me and I’m not much of a beach break guy either.”
He then offered me some food and water which I declined but said: “Maybe later,” and withdrew my note pad from my knapsack. 

I sat in the panga a couple hundred yards from the sand, she bobbed up and down in the aggressive swell while I wrote

I always seem to discover another lost piece of my soul when I push myself to the extreme.  This particular moment I feel more reconciled with whom I discovered I’m not, rather than whom I thought I was