Photo of a Girl on the Beach
by Carmen Gimenez Smith
Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,
a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,
I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,
then I vanished. I gave the day a fingerprint,
I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.
The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.
The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,
but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,
and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.
For truth’s sake, I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.
She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.
I adore this poem. The parallels of time to the ocean, the metamorphosis of the young girl into something different, something more, until the old is completely undone...gone?
I fell into this piece of writing as if the words, themselves, were a photograph. An emergence of sorts.
Perhaps what endeared me most to this piece of work was how well it pulled me back into the oblivion of my own childhood! The young girl. The harmless girl whom the world reformed in time, with experience, into perhaps a woman who is gazing back to this innocent time as one looks beyond the peripheral vision of a shoulder glance. As I read I found myself also looking backward, the picture out of view, but the fact of what once was remained a vision in my head made whole by the memory of these words.