At Fifty

by Jeff Oaks

I come to the ocean. It’s a long drive out of the landlocked city but the idea is to just get to the edge of the edge of the world again. To just be in a place where the world might give a signal. I’ve given up on seeing a face or hearing a voice but not completely yet on receiving some message: which way to go? What’s the secret? The sound of sunlight rising over the vast volumes of calm water is something. The big black cormorant flying elsewhere, a line parallel to the horizon is something. Later today or maybe tomorrow I’ll scatter handfuls of my mother’s dust along the long shore. She didn’t care much what we did with what remained of her, she said. But when I mentioned this place I knew I’d come to to turn fifty, she said, okay, that would be all right. In a way, my standing here is my way of saying, Look, I’ve come this far. To just present myself for inspection, for attention. I can read the small body leaping in the water about fifty feet away as an eye opening and shutting, taking a look. Something surprising itself with splashes of air. The sound of water constantly moving, sucking on, kissing the side of the small white boats someone will take out later. The whole huge blue expanse of water. The slabs of gray clouds over there. The blue above that. I take photographs of an expanse.

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