Pelican Bay
by Mary Jo Balistreri

They asked what I missed most about Pelican Bay.

For days I carried this question around in my pocket.
Jangling. Bumping against my thigh. Perched on my shoulder.
The question bounced from here to there, the answer elusive.
Then one morning before dawn, a car blasted its horn on the beach.
In a flash I knew. The voice of someone's impatience, the sound
I'd left behind.

For five months I entered the day by inviting it in,
embraced it in the blue-black light of incipient dawn, defining myself
by degrees not unlike a foreign film, its slower pace, nuanced shots.
I shared a place of stillness where silence had a voice.
The sea spoke—sometimes sleepy, or intense, or like today, in picnic mode.
I responded. The air responded. The birds. Each day announced itself
in subtle aromatics, the heat sultry and seductive. Color suggested presence—
carnation pink, pewter, magenta, apricot, coral. Each shade told a story.
The stories were always fresh.

I could go on and on, but this is what I miss most in my life by the sea.
Sun-time, its slow passage through the arc of sky, voices of birds,
water, soughing pines and palms; life lived not by schedules and busyness,
but through imagination. A place where wind is companion, where trees
brush feathers against a sky so sparkling it is not so much a color
as an experience of light.

In this vastness, the void we often carry becomes the connection we share.
Mechanical things have no sway here. The word, future, no meaning.
Presence is everything. And when all the unspoken comes together,
I open to mystery, to intimacy.
The unnamable is more alive than anything I know.

The sea swells within me, its ebb and tide the way I want to live.
This is what I miss so much in Pelican Bay, Florida and why I always return…

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