The Glass Umbrella

The Glass Umbrella, 2006
1

We are the footprints by the Sea.
The waters come,
and waters leave.
Miss Sea, you see,
your children taken;
Children of the Sea forsaken.

Oh see, oh Sea,
Miss Galilee.
Bring back what she took from me;
bring back what you swallowed whole.
The yawning, old, and wide mouthed
urn,
lolled on, but never turned,
her deaf ear,
to me,
to hear,
my confused shouts at her.

Without a word at all to say,
she waves at nighttime and the day.
She rolls about within a dream,
the carousel goes by overhead;
to it she turns her mirrored head.
She simply looks to it, and all,
as we, like leaves,
around her fall.

We are but footprints by the Sea;
the waters come,
and then we leave.
Miss Sea, you see,
your children taken.
Children of the Sea forsaken.

Ancient sea, Miss Galilee,
can you see yourself in me?
As I see myself in you,
glowing white, and tinged with blue.
Can’t you see what you have done?
The lolling sea saw none.

2

“I see,” I said, and that was that;
standing at the shore of black.
I hear my own words echo back.
In those waters,
I saw me;
another reflection in the sea.

This was after ten years passed:
I returned, sat in the grass,
thinking of all who walked that shore.
Never did I see her face,
a glass umbrella had replaced,
the girl whom I adored.
My love would walk the shore no more.

But nothing else, and nothing more;
no more of who I once adored.
No more to God could I implore,
or to the umbrella in her stead.
The face of the mourning sun turned
red;
the glass umbrella, from the sea,
rolled ashore and laughed at me.
Then I knew,
and saw it all,
inside the glass umbrella fall.
I saw myself again, alone,
forever by the Sea to roam.

On that day I watched her play,
with birds about the shore.
I heard her laugh and nothing more,
as the Sea,
came and took my love from me.
Buzzards circled overhead,
like nature’s garbage men.
I heard them call,
and heard her laugh,
and felt the kiss of Caiaphas.

3

A finch had washed up in her place,
from the well amid the waste—
who floundered by the Sea,
and then flew on.
The bird fluttered for a moment,
and was gone.

As beautiful as the Sea might be,
her own beauty she can’t see.
In my dreams, she comes to me,
and sees her picture on the wall.
By my family, and me,
a portrait of Miss Galilee.

As wondrous as she looks, at night,
shimmering with the silver light,
she looks sadder in the dawn.
When the sun shines in her face,
bringing daylight in night’s place—
she yawns again, and sighs.
Children of the Sea walk home.
Deaf, Miss Galilee rolls on.

Earlier in my life, I went,
found a home which I could rent.
I called my child to say,
“Come see me, come see the sea;
we’ll have some lunch,
then get ice cream.
You have to come;
you have to see,
the face of lady Galilee.”

4

A while we stood,
where lolled the waves,
under a sky where seagulls played;
for her, my world, for once, to see,
the lovely face of Galilee.
From the waters, walked ashore,
played a while,
bonne nuit, amore.
She splashed about the waves, my
child,
and then she splashed no more.

I remember she flew in.
We had some sandwiches, and then,
hand in hand walked with a grin.
She laughed the day away.
She wore a blue dress, made of lace,
and had a smile upon her face.
At night she walks my dreams this
way—
for when she splashed,
that faithful day
the Sea took her away.
The waters took my living dream,
and left me here to stay.

The Sea looked into me, you see,
and saw what she could take from me;
my dreams could not just let it be.
And when it looked, at me, it saw,
the same thing when it looks at all.
How could she tell me what she sees?
The way she sees us all go ’round,
she often speaks without a sound.
She sees us dance,
and hears us call,
all at once,
but not at all.
The glass umbrella falls.

We are the footprints by the Sea;
the waters come,
and waters leave.
Miss Sea, you see,
your children taken;
Children of the Sea forsaken.

This poem was originally written as the eulogy, a eulogy for a friend of mine, named Diane, who drowned herself in 2006. The narrative was intended to loosely recount the one day we spent together at the beach, in South Carolina, and the night that followed was the last time I got to speak with her. Two months later, she took a bottle of OxyContin (she struggled with opiate abuse for years, and not only did I encourage it, I was just as bad as she was) and walked into the New Jersey shore. Her body was found three days later when it washed up with the tide, and after her brother, Steven, contacted me, knowing I was a close friend, knowing I met her through a work of poetry she found on an old website of mine, he asked me to write something for her funeral. This is what I came up with. Two other poems relating to her death, The Loss Soliloquy and Footprints of the Fall, were subsequently penned in her memory. There’s one thing I’ve found to be almost universal, and it is relative to these works: loss never leaves. What isn’t there is often more painful than what is, even if it’s painful, it’s still better than the loss of something–especially the loss of something as irreplaceable as life. This is the first poem, The Glass Umbrella, and was read by her brother Steve at her funeral in May, 2006. As much as I wanted this piece to be personal, I wanted, as well, to make it universal. When I say We are the footprints by the sea, I’m not just talking about myself, or my friend, but everyone, every man, woman, and child. We are the children of the sea. That was my original intention.

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