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Asbury Park - Marisa Cimbal

To A.F. and C.F.

Walking on the beach in Asbury Park, the waves creeping up my calves, the sun peeking out behind the clouds, I saw imprints of small feet forming a circle and I thought of you as a little girl.

Lost in memories of summers past, I stepped on a sandcastle----the moat surrounding it filled with water. I passed a lone flip flop looking for a mate, serenaded by the familiar sounds of women in conversation, children in their laps wrapped in towels; screaming Don’t go out too far! Put on Sunscreen, and squawking sea gulls looking for dropped food.

I saw you standing at the water’s edge, tiny fingers wrapped around the white handle of an orange bucket, searching, feeling, finding the perfect seashells. Doing pirouettes and jumping in and out of the waves.

I saw you running to me, cupping something in your hands, mouth agape, bright chicklet teeth peering under pink lips, with each stride your saucer like green eyes were locked with mine. It’s a star fish!

I heard the whistle blow, you’re in the lifeguard’s arms struggling to be free. Lips turning blue, wet hair stuck to your head. Standing with crossed arms shivering, I can swim!

I saw you wading with your bulldog, pulling her in before she drifted out to sea, trying to defy gravity with her fearlessness.

I saw you waving to me to come and swim. The waves were four feet, the tide strong. Dive now, you yelled. Barely catching my breath, I noticed your smile.

I saw you carrying your surfboard on the boardwalk, on the beach, carelessly tossing your random tote bag in the sand. Bottled water, suntan lotion, a towel. Always the same three things never anything more. Blonde hair turned white, skin caramel, scanning the ocean for a few seconds. Paddling, waiting, waiting, waiting, kneeling, standing, you caught a wave and rode it in, repeat. I saw your face briefly, the familiar smirk.

I see you every day, walking to the PATH train, brushing my hair, passing kids playing soccer.

I wanted to share these memories with you. Just to let you know, I won’t be getting on a surfboard this summer, I am not as fearless as you and your bulldog.


Marisa Cimbal lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and dog, Elsa, and is the mother of twin daughters. She works in New York City in healthcare communications and is now fulfilling her dream of being a poet and a writer of nonfiction.


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