Sunday August 21st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the beachcomber.

I guess people had a little too much to drink last night, as only one of my friends showed up at the beach this afternoon. There may have been other graduates from my year but I certainly didn't recognize them.

It was disappointing, but it gave me plenty of time to explore the beach with Max. We collected lots of seashells, turned over plenty of rocks in search of crabs (and found lots and lots of them), and even built a fort with driftwood.

Heading back to Vancouver tomorrow morning. I expect that it will be difficult to leave.

Mine:

He walks the beach
Hunched over,
Head swinging slowly
From side to side
As he searches
For treasure
Or whatever
Folks will buy.

The bulging bag,
Thrown over his shoulder
As he steps over
Driftwood
And goes from sand
To boulder
And back again,
Holds today's finds.

The years have
Not been kind
Yet somehow,
Someway,
He still seems content
With the contents
Of his sack
And his life.

I suppose
He's found
Peace
In simplicity,
But his
Is not
The life
For me.

3 Comments:

morganna said...

Scooping up the beach's detritus
Exploring shells, driftwood, flotsam
Edging out his rivals
Keeping secrets, like the truth
Excited to discover a piece of his quest
Rubbed smooth by the ocean, translucent sea glass.

Greg said...

@Morganna: there's something romantic about your poem today, and I especially like the third and sixth lines for the climaxes they provide. The acrostic adds a litle icing to the cake, but overall I'm left with an impression of an engimatic beachcomber and I'd like to know more!

@Marc: When read with Morganna's this makes an interesting contrast, as your beachcomber seems sadder, more thoughtful, and it feels like there's been a life here that's not being told or done justice by the description of the present. The last stanza is particularly interesting since the narrator finally speaks up themselves and encourages us to wonder if this is a penance or punishment of some kind. Nice work!

The beachcomber
The beachcomber was a solitary figure; a tall man with thin limbs that were as gnarled and tough as the driftwood he occasionally hauled up from the water's edge and piled to build natural fences at the edges of the dunes. His skin was the same colour as it, and a few passers-by had remarked that his stubble was similar to the foam on the sea when the wind got up. There were rumours that his breath smelled of seaweed, but they were mostly unsubstantiated. He was standing on the flat sands, his hand shading his brown eyes as he stared out to sea, when he heard the dull roar of diesel engines approaching.
From the left came four industrial plant engines, industriously tearing up sand, rocks, driftwood fences and ploughing through the beach. Nothing down to a depth of six feet was left untouched, and the treasures and junk that were turned up were quickly turned over, evaluated, and processed by a group of small children following behind. A sudden downdraft forced him to duck, and, turning his head, he saw a helicopter landing a short way down the beach to his right. As the rotors stopped turning a short woman got out and waved to him.
He walked over to her, his soul tearing in two at the destruction being wrought on his beach, wondering what she could want. When he judged he was in range, he hailed her.
"What is the meaning of this? You're killing the beach!"
Miss Snippet frowned. "I'm beachcombing," she said.
The beachcomber struggled to speak, the words sticking in his throat and choking him.
"Look," said Miss Snippet. "It'll take half-a-day and this stretch of beach will be clean. The sand isn't going anywhere, it's all back where it was, it's just a bit... messed up. That's why I wanted to talk to you. I want you to flatten it all out again." She reached inside the helicopter and pulled a large leaf rake out. "See? I want you to be an actual beach comber for me."
"In return," said a serious girl who couldn't be older than nine and was holding a clipboard, "we'll make sure you're not accidentally caught up in all this machinery."
The beachcomber's mouth gaped open like a suffocating fish.
"Good," said Miss Snippet dropping the rake at his feet. "That's all sorted then."

Marc said...

Morganna - I agree with Greg, I'd love to see this expanded upon as I want to know more of your seeker's story :)

Greg - thank you!

Hah, the contrast between your beginning and your ending is stark, to say the least. Wonderfully done, though I am left wanting to know more about this beachcomber, before the arrival of Miss Snippet and her crew :)