Vacation Days – A Progression

Day One

The burdens followed over
the many miles, down each road,
through every traffic jam, waiting out
each stop, arriving with us and joining
us in our room, refusing to loose
their hold on the one who served them.

They wavered a bit, shimmering
behind the veil of the humid air,
recoiling somewhat when faced
with the glare of beach sand
and the onslaught of crashing waves,
but would not release their control.

Day Two

Shoulders retain the tension
stored for so long in those
muscles, eyes — unaccustomed
to natural light — in a constant
squint, ever present people
an irritant, routine disrupted.

The sand…it is everywhere
and on everything, a gritty nuisance,
matched only by the heat
and the encroachment of waves.
The screech of other people’s children
stabs into my brain.

Day Three

The morning is lethargic,
no alarm to jump-start adrenaline,
coffee still follows, but it takes
the form of leisurely activity
instead of an addict’s need, sipped while
watching clouds instead of screens.

The walk to the beach is not
so long today, the sting
of the sun on skin begins
to feel…normal. Amidst the background
noise of Jimmy Buffett, seagulls
and surf, I find my family.

Day Four

is joy
to be found
in children’s voices,
lifted in delight
at the sight of seagulls,
trilling their own sort of song
chasing the birds across the sand.
Laugh and join with them in their pursuit,
remember what is often left behind.

Day Five

There is comfort to be found
in the sand, something symbolic
in the way it clings to skin,
how it is cooler underneath
than on the surface,
the subtle color variations at the tide mark,
how it slips from beneath your feat
when you attempt to stand
before the tide,
and how the dune flowers bloom
in the gritty soil.

I place my chair
at the water’s edge,
let the waves wash over my feat,
a part of the ocean
instead of an opponent.

Day Six

The waves come and go,
in constant trade with the shore.
Leave more than you take.


Filed under Poetry

18 responses to “Vacation Days – A Progression

  1. I absolutely love this progression, Mark. We try to do at least 10 days, so we can revel in those latter good ones longer. 😉

    Love this line:
    “The screech of other people’s children
    stabs into my brain.”
    …and can relate.

  2. This is a true progression, so well observed. We used to reckon that it took the first week of a holiday to unwind, the second to enjoy, and the third to spoil the whole thing with dread of resuming the merrygoround. If we could only manage two weeks, the second week was mostly spoiled!

  3. I love the insertion of forms as part of the progression. Very cool. This must have taken a bit of brain power. I thought you were relaxing ;-).

    Teacher question coming. Ready? Ahem: Line 5, ‘loose’ Do you mean that in the sense of letting go, in which case the spelling is correct, or do you mean in the sense of lost? I know, only me, but this is one of my soapbox words.

  4. Wonderful, Mark. You hit it on the head exactly.

  5. I can hear my teenage daughter complaining about that sand right now, but given the chance, a day of sand would be just right! I like how you have collected the days into a whole. It is just so how it is!

  6. scotthastiepoet

    Day Six was my favourite – a lovely three lines… With Best Wishes Scott

  7. Sometimes it works – works very well here. Subtle, incremental, understated, yet effective. I also meant the sea, sometimes it heaps more strain and “burdens”.

  8. nice last line….the beach for me is a place of peace…of re-finding my rhythm to life…interesting contrasts as well in the kids stabbing into your brain but then finding comfort in them when they are your family….

  9. i get the sand and water… loved your impression of them

  10. Oh, I like the metamorphosis from stressed curmudgeon to becoming part of the ocean, not just an observer.

  11. yes exactly like that a vacation will transform — the sand initially and nuisance turned to something that’s a part of you.. and we leave a lot of baggage that we have collected on the shore.

  12. Ahh..the enlightening journey of escape from human hell..where one looks and finds themselves at one with nature…

    always on the last day it seems..

    before it’s time to go back…

    i’m on ‘staycation’ now…

    it’s a wonderful place to…

    stay. 🙂
    @ONE with waves and beach……..

    (:no smart phones required;)

  13. “how it is cooler underneath
    than on the surface,”

    Yes, finally the moment of relaxation and immersion – We vacationed with all six of our children for one week on an island this past summer – there were a few “hectic” moments but I kept being reminded by the cry of the seagulls that I needed to “chill”. 🙂 Lovely, enjoyable unwinding poem.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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