promises the sound of the tide coming in. Never mind
the no-swim advisory, the sidewalks and parking lots
strewn with yellow and black crime scene markers
on the regular, the reappearing swastikas or the fact
that a quarter of humanity will run out of water by 2030.
I have been invited to the beach during the eschaton,
where piles of sand bags prop up crumbling dunes,
where nests of endangered loggerheads are tended to
by tender volunteers, where a notice posted on the public
boardwalk says visitors are urged not to wade or engage in
water recreation until the enterococcus warning is lifted.
These days I find myself googling end times habitually
and the results mention world events and climax, but
they don’t mean what happens when we touch ourselves
or each other, often on screen. They mean an in-gathering
of exiles, a time of transformation or redemption, rendering
all of our own poor decisions moot, so when the beach
clears out after sunset I snap a topless selfie because
this place was actually a nudist resort back in the 30s.
I stay alert to wonders and signs. When I was running
last week, a black snake at least four feet long slithered
off the road into the dusk and then a double rainbow
so bright vaulted across the sky I didn’t know what
to do except attempt to capture both with my phone
in case: covenant; in case: end of an epoch. We try
to warn ourselves every chance we get about this
dangerous moment, but I was raised by refugees
trained in the art of hyper-vigilance. You don’t need
to tell me anything. On a wall at a local museum
there’s a movie rolling of Holocaust survivors filmed
thirty-six years ago—the last Yiddish generation
sunning themselves on South Beach. They say
don’t be afraid. If we don’t say anything, no one
will ever know what happened. I was twenty-four months
in the bushes in hiding. I was laying three days
among the dead in the wagons. We walked around
like our own shadows. When I came over, I didn’t
have nothing. Here I’m alive, and I love it.
They are singing talking sewing playing cards
doing aerobics on the beach, arguing and feeding
pigeons crumbs of bread, reading or napping on
park benches, dancing with each other on hotel
porches, the women often in pairs. Everything
blows through—even the lightning breaking open
thick clouds on the horizon. If I were to describe
the waves here to a landlocked friend or lover, I’d say
they’re a roar or a shush or a breath. I am alive.
There is nothing I can say to comfort us.