after the beach

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i always hated the beach,
all of its extremes i thought annoying
and troublesome. the sun too potent,
the popsicles too sticky, the waves
too forceful. i hated how at the end
of a day spent at the beach,
i would still be shaking my dress
and bag and book
and scrubbing myself in the shower,
trying to lose each grain of sand
that had accompanied me home.
i would tend to my sunburns for days
afterwards, smearing cool aloe gel
across my nose and counting the new
freckles there. sometimes,
it even hurt to smile.

i realize now
that loving you is quite like
spending a day at the beach
and dealing with the repercussions
afterwards. turning my heart
inside out, attempting to shake you
off like those grains of sand. tending
to the wounds you left like i tend to
my sunburns—frustratedly applying
balm to the broken skin and all the while
angry at myself, for going to the beach
and not wearing enough sunscreen.
for going to the beach, and forgetting
to protect my heart.

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