when i was in high school, i took my sadness to the beach. i peeled off my shirt, dropped it in the sand, and fell face down into the first wave i could find. i drifted in the water. i barely moved. fish zig zagged around me sometimes. i wondered now and then if those sensations were similar to death. to float. to be carried. to be surrounded by life but removed from it. i doubted it but i hoped so.

when i was really bereft, i watched clouds... the way psychics watch tea leaves. i climbed out of the ocean. i lay down on a warm dune and i assigned values to the mountainous miami clouds. "that one is my girlfriend," i decided "and that one is me." i waited to see what we did.

it sounds a little crazy but, when we are open to what we might find, i honestly believe that meaning can be found wherever we look for it. in textbooks, in tea leaves, wherever.

cloud watching never disappointed me. it gave me simple answers like "we are moving in different directions" or more resounding ones like "life is short but beautiful." it's hard to feel sad when you're driving home from the beach with that thought on your mind.

Cicada magazine commissioned this illustration for a poem by Julia Mueller.

© 2006 rama hughes