December, 7.30 - 8pm ADST

I need time
for myself,
before the day ends.

I grab a jumper,
leave the house
and walk
through the back fence,
across the road,
past the motel,
through the dirt-packed carpark,
and up the sandy track.

As I reach the top of the track,
I pay attention as the sea is revealed
in front of me.
The banksia canopy peels away,
the track bends,
stones cut at my feet,
and the sky breaks through the boughs
and melts into the water.
This is the moment I ache for when I'm away.
This point,
at the top of my beach track,
when the ocean appears.

My track.
My beach.
My ocean.
My home.

It's late.
The sun has dipped below the trees behind me,
leaving the sand in shadows.
The light still plays further out,
on the water,
but the sky is lilac,
faded blue,
and silver.
There's not much time left in the day
but that is the time that I need.

I sit in the dunes,
in the still warm sand
and run my fingers through it.
As I dig I already know that
deeper down it's cold
and damp,
and the white gives way to grey.
And black.
I've never liked the black sand.
It cakes my fingers
and smears
and sticks to my skin.

I break apart small sticks and twigs
that litter the sand at my feet,
and poke them upright
building stick cities.
I drizzle the soft, white sand through my fist
making temporary pyramids
within the city walls.
Small actions to take my mind away.
To be still.

The light is still fading.
Lilac and silver turn steely grey
over the water.
But I twist around to try to find,
through the pandanus and melaleucas,
orange and green streaks
behind me in the sky.
I know they sit
above the hills
where the sun sinks away,
but I can't see them from here.
In the sand.

I turn back to look at the sea.
The water looks cold
but it's not.
It's summer-time warm.
And with so many people around,
and in the fading light,
the waves sound louder.
I can never figure out why this is?
Why does it sound louder as the sun sets?
I wonder as I look.

By this time of day
the bare bodies have disappeared.
They're now wrapped in clothes,
protected from the evening breeze.
At this time of day
the petanque
and cricket games are in swing,
the dog-walkers are chatting
as their pooches play,
and the lovers stroll
hand in hand.
(And he always offers his jumper
I've noticed.)

But my family has dinner cooking
and I should go home.
I break apart my stick city
so no-one will tread on their points
in the night.
(Like filling in the holes
you dug as a child,
to spare the fishermen broken legs.)
And I pick myself up,
brush off the powdery sand
and look one last time,
for today,
at the sea.

There will be more time.


  1. I used to do that with sticks in the dunes , just to see how long they would stay upright - maybe just a season, later I would pile stones atop eachother in the recesses of an ocean cave - and go back years later to see what had become of them -


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