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911 Memorial Poem, 2003
by Raphaella Vaisseau

I come to this sacred place to be in communion.
With God,
With Nature,
With one and all.
As I sit on the sand near the Golden Gate Bridge
With my journal in my lap and a pen in hand,
I pause.
I give thanks for my life,
For this beautiful place,
For this day.
The waves of the Pacific crash onto the shore,
Spraying my face with the mist of the sea.
I pause.
I remember the many, the few.
Then mortal, now immortal,
I remember the lives and events that moved and shook us all that day.

My bare feet sink into the sand, awakening my senses in the here and now.
Looking down, I realize the sand is really not yet sand, but instead is made up of miniature pebbles
Each one a decidedly different pebble from the others,
Each one beautifully unique.
I am mesmerized by them, and scoop some in my hand for a closer look.
For what seems like hours,
I explore the miniature boulders and marvel at their infinite beauty.
Not yet abraded by each unto the other into the oneness that becomes something else.
Sand. Like snowflakes. Like us.

My mind searches the memory of hundreds of beaches I?ve walked upon,
Seeking another time I?ve seen such a thing.
I wonder if all sand begins this way.
If so, I ask myself, is this a young beach compared to all the others?
Or is it simply that I haven?t noticed this before now?
Is the sand on Malibu Beach finer somehow?
In my mind's eye, it's more the consistency of sifted flour or dirt.
Ah, but it's a question that can't be answered from here.
I make a mental note to return to the shores of my past and take a closer look.
I let it go. And then, a thought.
Surely the sandy beaches of Minnesota lakes are not like these pebbles.
I remember the dribble castles I?d made with soaking wet sand on the shores of Battle Lake.
I couldn?t have made dribble castles out of pebbles.
Knowing this gives me confidence in my present experience,
Confidence in the past,
Confidence in the memories I hold so dear,
Confidence in knowing,
Affirmation of the miracle the pebbles I am holding in my hand represent.
A gift for me this day.

The mist sprays my face again and brings me back from the microscopic travels of my mind,
Back to the vastness of the ocean waves crashing, rolling, ceaselessly before me,
Just as my breath continues to come and go, in and out
Without my attention.
Reminding me that I am always connected to the source
Within and without
Here and there
Then and now

We are one.
I remember.

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