One of the great joys is life is the chance to aid a fellow human being without being asked. June 6 was such a day for the Alaskan poet. I ride ACCESS and had just spent most of Sunday not writing poetry but working in my office feeling sorry for myself and worried about missing the tip off to the Celtics/Laker game. After being picked up instead of heading straight home, the van had to go in the opposite direction to pick up another passenger, a person confined to a wheelchair, I suspect for all of her life. After picking her up and heading to my home near the beach, I learned she had never been to the beach. I suggested the driver use Seashore instead of Coast Highway so she could see the waves. She was so thrilled I suggested the driver go further past the turn to my house to a street where the bus could stop, she could be taken off in her chair and could be wheeled down a concrete ribbon to within 30 yards of the water. I waited in the van while she and the driver spent the next 15 minutes near the waves. I could feel the joy from the van 75 yards away. 20 years from now i will not rember the game, the tip off of which i missed, but I will remember her joy. I wrote the following poem at the end of the game.
Chair to the Beach
Ever since Lucy with brave heart came down from the trees,
Stood erect to view all on two legs one could see,
With strong legs and feet there is nothing we could not reach
From the highest mountain, to the most secluded beach.
But if in the lottery of birth, the legs were not there
Moving slowly only by the grace of a chair
Could you ever see the sight of waves breaking on the sand?
Chairs are not HUMVEES- they move only on flat land.
But if on a Sunday you could find a ribbon to the shore,
To watch the spirits feel the mist and not confined, to so soar,
A chair moving as close as the ribbon would permit
Watching the waves that will never end, never quit.
A joy and a smile a fathom wide,
So close to the incoming tide
Never accept as a given, the magic of God’s grace
Even if only a series of waves in a never ending race.
A game of Lakers, a game of Celtics have to recede,
The mist of ocean spray waters a helping seed.
All of us who are blessed with Lucy’s ambling traits,
Must extend a caring hand to those with a different fate.
© Michael P. Ridley
June 6, 2010