The ducks are lining up again,

Nice neat rows,

Waiting to attack.

No, surely not.

I give the commands.

*I* give the commands?

They're stareing me down now,

Bleak black beady eyes,

With the glint of expectation.

Say something.


Never the wrong words.

Don’t ok an attack.


The last word I can remember.

The last word I’ll ever remember. 

For the ducks, 

Dumb drones,

Took their leader's word to heart.

And I met a feathery death.

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Why did I stay?

I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. I didn’t stay. I never stay. I always have to make the mistake of leaving. Maybe some day I’ll learn and make better choices. It took me a while to learn to come back. I’ll tell you why I come back.

I mess up often, so badly that I don’t believe I’ll ever feel well again. It’s like stubbornly running at a wall, believing that you won’t get injured. But you always crash, face first, into brick. You’re a little dizzy, you step back and stumble onto the floor and look up to see that the brick wall extends to the sky and horizons. The daunting red looks over you and you know you won’t ever get past it. You’re afraid to turn around because you’re certain that people are waiting for you to catch their eye before they start laughing at you, that the silence behind your, that seems so calm, is simply a cruel joke waiting to happen. That fear overwhelms you and when met with that impassible brick wall, all you can think is that you’d have to spend your days staring at red. You can’t help but scream. You keep screaming and crying out of the fear that whatever comes afterwards, you wouldn’t be able to handle. Maybe they’d laugh at you, how embarrassing. Maybe there’s no one there to laugh at you and you were alone all along, how lonely.

Eventually, when you are done throwing your tantrum, you hear a voice call out to you, not particularly loudly, “Did you hurt yourself?” And you remember what it was that you were running from.

It takes you a minute to answer. How could you possibly afford to lose your pride? It’s a silly question to ask at this point —you just ran into a wall, how much pride could you possibly have left? — but you always ask.


“Let Me see.”

You wipe your eyes and turn around.

“Aww that’s not so bad.”  He says, smiling, “What were you trying to do?”

“I wanna get past the wall.” You point to something in the distance. Your voice is still a bit wobbly, and you manage to sound five.

“Ok.” He reaches out for your hand, “Let’s go see this wall.”

Hopefully you take His hand.

It isn’t until months later, when you’ve met another wall, one made of stone perhaps, and you’re rubbing your hurt nose again, that you remember you never thanked Him for getting you past the bricks.

He accepts your thanks and apology and requests all the same, reaching out to take your hand once again.

All rights reserved © 2023 Josephine Joyil

“Why do you like the beach?”

I said something one dimensional when you asked me. It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about it. It was just that I couldn’t find the right words to answer the question. 

Maybe I have the words now? 

My favorite  place I’ve lived in as a child was California. We lived there for four years. We’d go to the beach often, so often that I can’t even remember it being significant. I remember for a science project in the fourth grade I wanted to compare solubility of… something, I can’t remember what. But I needed sea water, and after church we just drove to the beach. It wasn’t for fun, just for school, just for the sea water. The beach was that accessible, almost a staple, something needed but commonplace, taken for granted. 

We left when I was eight. I don’t think I saw the sea again until I was fourteen. 

I was at a beach in Kerela, India. There were too many people, a lot of noise, it was too cold and it had too much sand. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I liked the beach so much as a kid. It was a rose colored memory, some naively beautiful story a child told herself, it had to be. I remember watching my mom and brother run toward the sea, calling after me to join them. They wanted to play in the water, not too far in, just far enough to feel the water crash against their legs and the soft silty sea sand wash over their toes. Maybe they thought it was wholesome fun. Looking out into the horizon, which drove waves crashing toward the shore, I was mesmerized by the turbulent, almost violent temperament of the water. How could you play like docile children before such a thing? Maybe it was a reality too large to comprehend, something to be ignored until it caused an issue. It brought me peace to realize I could relate. 

Later in life, when we moved down south, the beach became accessible again, not a weekend trip like it had been before, but with some planning and five hours of driving, we can make it happen. I think the first time I drove long distance was on a road trip to the beach, I can’t quite remember. 

Yes, at this point in my life, my family started going to the beach a lot again.

I remember sitting on a balcony one night at some vacation house in Florida, I don’t remember which one, and listening to the sea crash into the sand. It was too dark to see anything, but I could hear the ocean from a distance, beautiful beast. It must have been Christmas Break. Or maybe it was the day of? My mother had called her mother and, as I did a million times as a child, I listened in on their conversation. It was in Malayalam. Something about that paired with the sound of the crashing sea made me feel like I’m in my place. My ancestors lived in a coastal city. In another life, where different choices were made and different opportunities were presented, perhaps I would have been sitting by the ocean with my mother and grandmother, listening to them converse face to face as the Indian Ocean crept to the shore. 

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