an expanse of the transparent, odorless, tasteless, with pebbles and sand.

Teresa Mestizo

fill in the gap.

  1.   a)    waterfall               b)   coast               c)    lagoon             d)   pond

  2.   a)    port                      b)   shore               c)   beach               d)   bay

 

my students explain the differences to me.

 

"like, you walk along the coast. the port is, like, for ships."

 

my part is explaining what parts of speech can go before and after a noun.

 

"and remember to fill in the answers on your answer sheet, too!"

 

telling students how to fill in gaps. that's what i do.

 

they go to the beach on holiday. they swim and go on water rides, get tans and forget about their homework until it's absolutely necessary not to. that's what they do. my students.

 

* * *

 

every body of water seems to be waiting. a visit. a definition of itself. we assume it's waiting because we assume we are to discover something there. a postcard view. our selves. a joint. someone else's tongue. an answer to a problem we inevitably go back to when the waves and sunset are replaced by the usual stuffy commute and too short lunch hour.

 

no beach is actually waiting. a beach is not a place, not exactly. it only seems to come to exist when you need it.

 

* * *

 

i've been to the beach two times, according to a pair of photographs.

 

a beach in lázaro cárdenas. pigtails and a little round belly in a kid's bikini. the 80's did that, of course. i was probably 3. the beach looks too brown, too rocky, too dirty, but i suspect 80's film did that, too. i'm standing solid on the sand, facing the sea, my hands on my hips, a lifesaver under my left arm. "i'm going to conquer this place", it looks like i thought. i hope i did do that, as much as a 3 year-old could do.

 

the second is just my feet in the sand. everyone is swimming or on colorful towels, gossiping with friends. it looks like it's about to rain, and i am alone, watching someone who has stopped loving me swim clumsily in the immense lake that belongs to my childhood summers. and winters. and to my perpetual nostalgia for the gray city i was born in. my feet in the sand, my keratosis pilaris on the small camera screen. "i don't belong on the beach, not even on this one", i know, i thought, just not with those words, or that sigh, not quite yet.

 

* * *

this is the beach.

Teresa Mestizo is a Chicagoan Xicana currently based in a small mountainous town in Mexico where she teaches, writes and makes art. She can be found at teresamestizo.com.

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Nat. Brut is a proud winner of a 2020 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize