It’s not a place as much as it is a space,
What’s the difference?
A wise woman once asked.
It feels as though “place” is too much concerned
With the physical features.
Places have trees, structures, water.
Places offer food, drink, dust collectors.
To call it a place would emphasize the gross matter,
The sand, the salty water, the dunes.
The people, propped atop their colorful towels,
The chips to be munched, the ball to be thrown.
Places contain activity, interactions, things.
You leave the place with sandy toes, burnt skin, salty hair.
To describe the beach as a space, rather than a place,
Acknowledges the whispers rippling through the dunes,
The whispers of three generations that’ve been coming to this beach,
The ebb and flow of conflicting feelings,
One moment feeling as distant from them as possible,
The next, reminded that they, too, have sat on this same sand, swam in this same water.
A space permits the existence of a spirit,
That brought smiles to the beach-goers, still propped atop their towels,
A space permits smiles in the wake of tears,
A space allows for memories, experiences, nostalgia.
A space allows you to throw the ball,
And feel that he is still sitting on his big, sagging beach chair,
Squinting to see the arm on his littlest one.
A space allows you to trek to the water,
Remembering all the times you’d fetch him a pail of it,
Pour it on him to cool off.
You leave a space with reverence, gratitude, tranquility.
A place is devoid of him.
A space keeps him alive.