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Jun. 5th, 2010 | 11:41 pm

I can count, if I think about it, all the beaches I’ve walked upon, shoes
or not, accessed by singular determinations or with elaborate machines,
the adjoining trees on the sandy peripheries standing straight as posts
or arching towards their watery horizon, their own private planet or moon,
their own glancing salt-toughened wind, their own inexorable turning
from the marching sea. Always first is long

Crescent Beach, a furrowed brow against the rocky Maine coast, long
and isolated, comfortable and satisfied with that, one mile of sand, shoes
rarely needed, blocked with walls from the blast of perfect storms’ turning
impotently in the gulf. Great waves, for Maine, no machines, elaborate
or otherwise, visible on its always grey planet- or moon-
scape. The dunes are barricaded, protected say the signs, with straight posts

dry and good for kindling when we forgot to bring our own. Straight-post
pines surround like centurions Harmon Beach so that, with its thin, long
line of isolated sand protecting a shallow pond and open to the planet or moon
of Sebago beyond, the one place seems like two, shoes
on against the pine needles and stones in one, off to the mucky elaborate machines
of the sunken water line and almost muddy sand in the other. I could turn

my head just a little and imagine myself alone, an isolated warmth turning
the pond to bathwater. On St. John’s, when it was night, we stood straight as posts
and oscillated, and hundreds of elaborate machines
(bioluminescent dinoflagellates) ignited in the waters off those beaches, long
deceptively and ponderous against the azure sea. The only time I ever wore shoes
was in the showers; a toothless Caribbean jungle like some alien planet or moon

read in a book, seen in a movie. Then there’s the entirely different planet or moon
of that beach in Genoa where I saw night turn
to day as I held your necklace. Its pebbles first stung then toughened feet with no shoes.
The city crowded against the cloudy sea, post-war chromatic buildings straight as posts
in the calm humidity that tastes like Chianti in my memories. Or there’s Long
Beach where I went only once in winter, or pebbly beaches below the elaborate machine

of Portland Headlight. Or piloting elaborate machines
past the few beaches along the Cumberland, or in darkness looking at planets or moons
through a telescope as wind wracked us on wintry Old Orchard Beach. For long
hours I’d look at the photo of all of us at the beach on Thomas Pond as the turning
wake from a passing motorboat soaked us to the armpits, reeds straight as posts.
To think of it, I can remember everything about you then, even your shoes.

Then there’s the long day we spent on Gooch’s Beach, the elaborate machines
of our hearts set against one another, our shoes set aside, the planet or moon
of your face coyly turning away, our legs straight as posts.

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