Surfing Poem for You

On the Silver Surf

Dawn. Weather-radio crackles–
the little yellow box that broadcasts
on the frequency
of a daily Rosary.

The ocean moves, forces work:
Moon pulls tides; winds blow;
underwater volcanoes erupt.

A skilled craftsman
hewed from spiritual redwood
the stick I paddle out on.
Paddling with hands folded–
as best I can fold them.
In the rising light.

What do I feel? In this lapping water
of the earth? “Feel,” as in:
How will it crest?
(According to previous study.)

Two towers once rose, children,
practically begging a Frenchman
to string a wire between them
and walk. A heavenly
balancing act.

He felt the wind at a thousand feet,
his trained muscles attuned to every nuance
of each other. He surfed the sky,
like a meditating man
attuning his soul to music
the angels hear.

That’s how you mount the deck.
Or try to–you’ve gotta know
how to swim, of course. We do fall.
Start with a Credo. Repeat.

The perfect wave? Who can claim
to have seen it? The Apostles
saw the perfect Surfer.
The perfect crest inside Him:
and out. He rode The Wave,

The Will. That made stars, to confound
the doubters, and gave us ingenuity,
like beavers, to dam-up creeks and make
fishing ponds and other peaceful places.
Only a creature with God for Father
could make hamburgers. The Lord
grandfathered burgers and fries.

A good run ends with dinner.
Waves last one day at most.
Surfing on land, in a car,
in an office, at someone’s house–
don’t try to stay on a wave, child,
for more than one day.

Tomorrow the same words, the same looks could
crest much sooner, or much later.
Tomorrow you could drown
under very similar conditions.
(But surfers don’t fear death.)

Budweiser Big Daddy at the end, to be sure.
This ocean certainly will becalm itself.
We need not strain for balance forever.

He just gives us this stick to ride
to teach us: He, the ocean, the air, the all.


One thought on “Surfing Poem for You

  1. Father Mark,

    So, you remember Philippe Petit, or heard of him; you were rather young on August 7th, 1974 []. How about Nik Wallenda at Niagara Falls [ watch it if you dare; who knows whether Philippe or Nik had the more distracting background for their “walks”] if you’ll permit a non-Frenchman. Or, if you’re into firsts, how about Charles Blondin [ — the “dancer”].

    But, ah, it’s ultimately the lone figure against the elements that most makes us take note — perhaps with honor, possibly with humility. I watched a man my age about 12 years ago, kayaking on the Potomac in the lower reaches of Great Falls. It was twilight as he disappeared into the misty gloom; Pat, Jeffrey (our grandson) and I watched from the Maryland shore.

    There’s something about such people that commands our attention. They must do it; they are compelled — but, then, you know that.

    In God we trust.



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