South Beach

This poem “South Beach” was written back in 2010 and later published in my first poetry chapbook “Madrona Grove” in 2013. It is what some would call a “process poem” where the writer uses the art of poetry to process a real event in their life. Of all the poems in the book THIS is the number one poem that generates an email, phone call or a conversation to me from the reader. I’m glad this poem has touched so many. When I read it, even 11 years later, a part of me is back on that beach. I can still hear the waves, I remember the eagle. That was the year of “no more.”

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island, Washington state. South Beach (upper left)
Photo credit: https://mikereidphotography.com/ Please visit his website.

South Beach
by Shannon Laws

Often, we would walk South Beach together
That long large-pebbled beach
along the Salish Sea
on the island’s west side

Short, salt water waves
lap up against the shore there,
constant rhythm set by the wind,
like a slow rock tumbler
sifting for agates

Brown cliffs of San Juan
barely hold a road on top itself
Large crumbles of dirt clots
lay at its feet predicting its fate

Hard soles are needed to walk this beach
The stones just large enough to
aggravate the arches as you walk,
Hamstrings pull heavy with each step

Once in a while,
whenever it wants to,
a large eagle can be found
perched on beach wood

He owns that beach and all who pass
His royal brow gives no doubt

This is my favorite beach, you tell me, one foggy morning

We tried again to walk together
I walked ’til I reached the Eagle King,
you continued alone into the mist
Mystery always favored over familiar
I sit and watch you heavy step away

Alone you go into the fog
leaving me to sit with the eagle
You continue until a low cloud
consumes you from my sight

I imagine you reach the end
where the cliffs give way to the shore
and the landscape bends around
to the fields at Cattle point
I saw you in my mind
alone and happy with your thoughts
and the sea

I sit and watch,
You walk and ponder

A year later,
You sat and watched
as I walked off the island
You let me go that year
just like I let you
walk the beach
alone



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Poem: Island Winter

Fall is over
Frost is setting in
Clear sky or cloudy
Ice will be found in the morning
Alone
Quiet
No birds
No visitors
The ocean is colder
The beach is empty
A gull stands watch
On a beach wood wall
Solitude
Peace
Breath seen
Waves heard
…it is winter

South Beach, San Juan Island, from the bluff
by
Shannon P Laws

***

Poetry: South Beach

South Beach Eagle King
Often, we would walk South Beach together
That long large-pebbled beach
along the Salish Sea
on the island’s west side
Short salt water waves
lap up against the shore there,
constant rhythm set by the wind,
like a slow rock tumbler
sifting for agates
Brown cliffs of San Juan 
barely hold a road on top itself
Large crumbles of dirt clots
lay at its feet predicting its fate
Hard soles are needed to walk this beach
The stones just large enough to 
aggravate the arches as you walk,
Hamstrings pull heavy with each step
Once in a while,
whenever it wants to,
a large eagle can be found 
perched on beach wood
He owns that beach and all who pass
His royal brow gives no doubt
“This is my favorite Beach”, you tell me one foggy morning
We tried again to walk together
I walked ’till I reached the Eagle King, 
you continued alone into the mist
Mystery always favored over familiar
I sit and watch you heavy step away
Alone you go into the fog
leaving me to sit with the eagle
You continue until a low cloud
consumes you from my sight
I imagine you reach the end
where the cliffs give way to the shore
and the landscape bends around
to the fields at Cattlepoint
I saw you in my mind
alone and happy with your thoughts 
and the sea
I sit and watch
You walk and ponder
A year later
You sat and watched 
as I walked off the island
You let me go that year
just like I let you walk the beach alone…

My Beach Shoes 2010