When we met in the park that day you moved me,
coming fresh from tears, talking matter-of-factly
about your pain. Your thin shoulders, bare in the sun,
reminded me of the sand hills near
the Oregon shore. I have never seen dunes
more beautiful or sad, for their tufts
of tough beach-grass and occasional islands of trees,
and for their weakness against the on-shore winds
that batter this coast. They give to it
and so they survive, taking shape under its hands.
Your hands moved in the air as you spoke.
I kept wanting to turn away, knowing what would happen
if I looked into your brown eyes. But I did,
and it did. I felt as if a strong wind
was blowing me. I tried not to take
your hands in mine. I tried and succeeded,
but that success felt like a kind of failure. And when
we hugged our goodbyes I laid my head briefly
down on warm sand and believed
I could hear, in your breathing, the sea.
(Ken Zimmerman 1994)