A Meeting: A Poem

I was hiking to sight-see

And I saw her

Shoeless, trying to catch minnows,

Giggling with glee when she failed.

 

I thought she was so naive, wandering carelessly, 

Excited at the prospect of failure.

I wondered when she would grow up 

See that life isn’t all fun and games,

See that life is pain and struggle.

 

But as soon as I thought that,

I realized I didn’t want that for her. 

 

She deserved to laugh 

And smile courageously, 

To live without fear,

To stay on that reef forever,

To not ache at the idea of tomorrow.

I wanted that life for her.

 

She must have heard me thinking,

As I appeared on the edge, 

'Cause she turned to look,

Smiled as she caught sight of me.

 

Me,

As I cowered away from the edge,

As I hid from roaring waves.

 

She looked familiar, 

Like a face I’d chosen to forget.

 

She wandered over, 

And I stepped out to meet her.

 

“Well hello there, what’s your name?”

I stared at her 

Her gaze laid me bare. 

I opened my mouth slowly, 

Uncertain.

 

Then

“I don’t know.”

She nodded as if that made sense.

I shook my head, how could it be?

 

“I have many names. People have been calling me different names for years. 

I simply change to be what they need- 

A quiet confidant, a fearful child, a sarcastic friend. 

And I suppose I am all of them.” 

 

She turned around to face the crashing waves 

Till I thought she forgot I was there.

 

Then: “What does the ocean call you?”

 

“What?”

 

“I come out here everyday,

to listen to the waves, 

waiting to hear them call me.”

 

I took a step back, denying her truth. “It’s… just water.”

 

She followed me, staring up at me, 

Her eyes like the ocean, 

Ruthless yet also calming. 

 

“The ocean can be anything 

but ‘just’ water. 

It is change, yin and yang, destructive and miraculous. 

It is capable of anything but deceit. 

 

It might drag you from the shore,

drown you in its depths,

or let you float near the top

Resting in its peace.

But it will never deceive you.

 

And that is how I know,

that when I hear the ocean call,

I know what it says,

Will be my name.”

 

I took a few steps past her,

Staring at the waves,

At their destruction on the rocks.

 

“You can hide behind as many names as you want,

But you can never hide 

From the ocean.”

 

I hear it, now a whisper, deep and muffled. 

I turn to see the girl gone, it’s just me and the ocean. 

The ocean, the ocean. 

 

I take a seat, pull off my shoes, and decide to listen, once more, for a name.