The Origins of Longing

June 20, 2015 in Poems

What is it about the beach and desire? Surely not the oiled flesh of the self-important who appropriated this particular piece of real estate during an era when Presidents and Princesses visited, created a cottage industry for beefy college kids to enforce the colonial-era ban on walking, fishing or fowling above the high water line nor can it be the onshore winds firing the perfect swells, the now untouchable clay mottled in the cliffs, off-limits to all but plovers, and it isn't the interminable wait to enter the parking lot, flash that coveted sticker and take the last spot among the island beaters.

It might be the beach roses on the path.

The Wampanoag giant Moshup knew the idea of owning a beach was sheer folly. He wandered far before he'd settled on the Vineyard, dragged his foot to sever it from the mainland, plowed up the cliffs of Gay Head and lit the first of his massive cook fires, insatiable in their appetite for fuel, leaving behind a world for the archeologists - layers of petrified wood and coal in the cliffs and the treeless expanse that maps call Moshup's Trail. Scraps from his dinner table are the bones and teeth of ancient life.

One day Moshup summoned his followers clamming in the tidal ponds, swimming off the warm south shore beaches and tending fires on the high glacial plains. A new kind of man, with fairer skin than yours, will soon be coming. Do not them let them land on these shores or your lives will change forever.

It must be the beach roses on the path.

Originally published in the Rockhurst Review, Spring 2015