We sit in a circle taking turns.
Dorothy with the orange hair clutches
her purse like a life raft as she tells us
her husband stayed out again all night.
Jason announces softly he’s moving out—
a trial week away from his wife
and having to watch her self-destruction.
Three months, anguishes Norma, since she kicked
her 16-year-old out of the house
and still no word.
I let their stories wash over me, sink in
like the edge of a retreating tide
blotted up by sand.
Strange how pain shared can be so comforting
how it pools into a kind of wisdom.
Each week we gather at the edge
of this bittersweet ocean, let its salt heal
whatever has cut us,
allow ourselves to float for awhile.
I imagine myself walking along its shoreline
picking up driftwood, sea glass,
pieces of shells
remnants of lives pummeled and scoured
to their simplest forms—
reduced to what would not be broken.