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Poseidon Prayer at Torrey Pines Beach
Therese Graf | Via Cortina


Holding my infant son in my arms at the deserted sandy beach, I rehearsed a rescue scenario for his two pre-teen brothers out there beyond the breakers. Good swimmers, with youthful bravado, they promised Mom to be careful. We agreed they would rise up from the water and wave to me now and then.This was supposed to relieve any worry as I wretchedly observed their shrinking images from the shore.

I tried to entertain the baby and myself, digging sand and piling up rocks in geometric designs. He delighted in splashing in the froth while I stole shaded-eye glances out to sea, where two heads could be imagined bobbing—or not? I began seriously to plan what would 1 do if they didn’t wave? Or I couldn’t see heads bobbing? After all, they were skin-diving, but the buddy system isn’t infallible, With no lifeguard towers then at Torrey Pines Beach, nor any nearby bus, and little auto traffic at that time of day, who would see a distraught Mom stumbling along holding babe in arms, both crying, one yelling into the wind, “Help, help?” A daytime nightmare...

Then it struck me; this was a moment of revelation, an epiphany; I was made to realize that not ever again would I think I might control those boys, nor influence them much in future decisions, except with empty threats and pitiful appeals.A half-hour later, as their glistening bodies emerged from the deep, my palpable relief was expressed in jumbled questions about their meeting with Poseidon’s kingdom.

Fated to await the day when the Baby waves me off too, I resign myself to a decade which now seems an instant inside real time. When I walk to that beach today, and see all the people, many from afar, and appreciating the patrolling lifeguards in their jeep, I remember when we thought this beach was our own. With only our footprints, and the patterns made by the sandpipers, we felt ourselves part of nature. Each visit was a prayer.



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