i went to the beach a lot
last summer
not to atlantic city
with all my girlfriends
and not to lbi
with all my surfer friends
but to old, decrepit
seaside heights
alone
and i hiked up the trails that lead
to the private beaches
where there were no lifeguards
no tourists
and everything was unspoiled
and i sat with my toes in the sand
watching the waves break
and not wanting to go on the
boardwalk...
knowing that i'd have to eventually
but avoiding it for as long as i could
the boardwalk was as big a part of
my childhood
as my first word
my first step
but a part of me i kept hidden
from friends and boyfriends
cos i was afraid they'd tell me i was
crazy
and maybe i am...
you see, there is an old, decrepit
ferris wheel
on that very boardwalk
that takes me a long way back...
of course, it was shut down
long before i was born
and the bolts that held the baskets in place
were weak and corroded
and the beams were flimsy
but to me it was perfect
beautiful
and i remember wanting to just
run away from home
just grab all of my notebooks
my poetry
and a couple of pens
and leave
run to the boardwalk and
up into the highest basket
where no one would ever find me
and i'd live there forever
making wind chimes out of
sea glass i'd find washed up on shore
learn the language of the seagulls
and always know when a storm was coming
because of the patterns of the wind and clouds
write poems about the moths that flew around
the neon lights
then tear the pages out of my notebook
and fold them into paper airplanes
let the sea breeze take them to the ocean
and watch them float away
listen to the mermaids read them and giggle...
of course i am much older now
i have my own house
and i gave up my silly dream of
becoming a poet a long time ago
they lock up the gates these days
and they have maximum security
so gangs don't destroy anything
all seagulls are interested in is
terrorizing little children who just want
a friend to cuddle with...
now i watch the weather channel
when i want to know if it'll rain
and i buy my chimes at craft stores
and nothing is ever lit up
in that section anymore
there are no such things as mermaids and
i've long since gotten rid of my notebooks
as well as every last bit of evidence
of any kind of childhood
i am all grown up now
but deep inside still the same little girl...
i know now that wanting to live in a ferris wheel
was silly, stupid, and actually quite dangerous
and yet i still yearn to go back
i get in my car and drive up to
boardwalk parking
show the man my beach pass and
slip my sandals back on
get out and step onto the wodden planks
remembering the tales of pirates i was told
when i was little and laugh at how
impressionable i had been
i walk past the game booths and arcades
the tattoo and piercing shop i used to hang out in
and flirt with the one guy who worked there
the one who always wore that finch hoodie
last i heard of him his band had hit it big
i was in a band once...
but that, like this, was a long time ago
i walk past the pizza parlor and
the old stuart's
i never cared for root beer...
i walked past what used to be the b hut...
where b 985 radio used to be in the summer
past the stage where i saw my first kill hannah show
they were my idols once...
and before i can stop myself i'm
standing right in front of that ferris wheel
the breeze is making the baskets shift
and i remember a song i used to like once
an old kill hannah song, if i'm not mistaken
i think it was called "new heart for christmas"
or something along those lines...
the ferris wheel still turns
as though it's
a popular attraction still...

and indeed it is
but in a much different way
little kids look up at it in awe
teenagers who have no respect for anything
have made their marks with graffiti
and other debris
photographers come from all over
to take black and white pictures of it
but they're about fifty years too late
they should've seen it when it was first built
should've seen it in all its glory and splendor
just like i wish i had
i lean on the old fence as though i'm
standing in line
i imagine a little man taking tickets from
excited little kids
and then i yell at myself for
being so dumb
i head back to my car
looking down every so often
to see the occasional flier
or the nickels and quarters kids used to
crazy-glue to the wooden planks
i reach my car and
take off my sandals and turning the key
note the distinct smell of
sea salt and tanning oil
frustrated, i rest my head on the steering wheel
and think about a childhood lost too quickly
is it so impossible to retrieve a childhood
once it's gone?
suddenly i don't have all the answers
i made a promise to come here every week for
the remainder of my summer and then some
i'm just trying to regain what's lost...