The Sea from Different Shores

The sea in Hawaii is as green as it is blue and rides onto mounds of golden sand, molded by the feet of passerby who carry their shoes and roll up their jeans. Waves overlap waves like sheets of ice floating on the Antarctic sea, sliding over one another like clouds. The sea leaves behind flowers of foam on the sand, which dissolve under the heat of the sun. At dusk, the sea sings the colors of the sunset, purple and red and hazel under balmy skies. The sea in Hawaii sparkles in moonlight and rolls in the breezes of the night. It rocks itself to sleep, as the wind whispers its breathless coo.

Years ago, I threw a bottle with a message into the sea.


The sea only reaches Tacoma through the Puget Sound and maybe through some rivers. On the rocky, black-sand shore of the sound, crabs scurry into crevices between stones, carrying with them the detritus of the sea. Tongues of seaweed wash ashore, covered in slime, where they harden slowly under the mild sun. The water of the Puget Sound drops fragments of shells and crabs onto the sand, where they remain half-buried, like the statue of Ozymandias in the desert. But the shore of Tacoma is not a desolate place. The Puget Sound is quiet, and birds rest on the wooden pillars of piers that have known older days. I think that, if I were any good at it, I could skip a rock that would hop infinitely by feeding on the stillness of the sea.


I think of these things as I sit in the SUB, alone at a table with five other seats. I’m holding a bottle of soda to my ear and listening to the sea inside of it. At times it sounds like the sea in Hawaii and at others the waves of the Puget Sound, which I suppose, for all their differences, don’t sound that different. Maybe the sea is getting back to me, in response to the message I tossed it years ago. But I don’t know what it’s trying to say, and my friends take their seats, so I lower my bottle and leave the waves for another time.