"Never turn your back on a wave"

This is a poem I wrote for my grandfather, Dar Dar, and read today at his funeral:

 

The orange sun is melting

into the Bass Strait,

and you stop the engine.

We bolt out of the car

like corks from bottles.

Wind lashing hair,

sand biting legs,

we race along stiff smooth slopes,

the ocean licking our toes.

 

Together we stop to face the water.

The waves roll in silently,

quiet glassy humps,

before dumping the weight of the ocean

at our feet.

The frigid water is thick with foam,

swirling at our ankles.

“Never turn your back on a wave,”

you tell us.

We nod solemnly.

 

All of a sudden

the ocean is here,

and I’m in too deep.

I’m losing my balance and I panic.

 

But you are there,

with your big, strong hand,

which you clasp with the firmness of Earth

into mine.

The ocean sucks its wave back,

but I’m still here.

 

“Never turn your back on a wave,” you say.

I nod, solemnly,

and you let my hand go again,

because you know I’ll be alright.