In a House by the Sea

By Sandy Gingras

51/2" x 7 1/4"
72 pp.

ISBN 1-59322-013-8

Outside Shower

There’s a tinge of rust in the air, a hint of mildew, an old-board wet sand smell. A cobweb droops in the corner. The cap to an ancient shampoo bottle is wedged in the floorboards. No one will ever get it out. No one will ever try.

The soap has been here a while in this enamel soap dish that Kevin screwed to the wall a little crookedly. There’s a layer of sand embedded in it. And that one shampoo that nobody likes has been here for 2 years. It sits on the wooden ledge with Karyl’s rusty barrette and the perfect little black scallop shell. It doesn’t change much in here. The door rattles a bit when the breeze blows. But time can’t get in. It’s always August in here, always the luscious middle of vacation. Reality is always a good month away...This is the place where summer stays. See, there’s the 1996 Surf Fishing Tournament hat hanging on the hook, there’s the faded towel a little stiff with salt, there’s the bathing suit dripping.

In this secret gloomy little half-room, I’m removed from the world But I’m only 50 feet away from my neighbor’s deck where he is barbecuing. “Hon,” he calls to his wife, “can you bring me the spatula?” The screen door slaps. I can hear another outside shower running too–down the street. I slide my bathing suit off and make it into a sodden pile with my feet. The shower is streaming all over me its slow irregular rainy beat, its lukewarm softness. I am utterly naked. I am rivulets. I am pelted with ease. I am washed and un-salted. I am freshened-up. The air is swirling around my legs. I smell hamburgers sizzling on the barbecue. Someone else’s kid yells, “Mom?” I am soaping up and frothy. My skin is squeaking. Why are tan lines so sweet and interesting and appealing? Inside the house, my family is bustling around without me, or perhaps just lazily thinking about dinner. This is contentment. I am in a stall of rain; I am my own box of weather. This must be what a cloud feels like when it comes home from its long flight, but nobody knows it’s home yet. It’s just standing on the doorstep feeling the nearness of being there. Feeling light, homey, arrived but not yet burdened with arrival.

I am a mermaid. I am fishy and wild, domestic and exotic. This is as mundane as standing under a faucet, but I feel like something primal, an out-island woman. A waterfall, a sky. This is a church of the outside kind. I am washed of my mind. I am washed of the past and the future. It’s all present in here. It’s all pause. The strawberry cheap shampoo, the grit of the soap, the jar of lead sinkers that nobody knows how to dispose of on the shelf. “Yoohoo,” someone calls from next door. It’s not for me. This is heaven, I tell you, this is heaven.


Sandy Gingras is an artist and writer with her own design company called “How To Live.” She and her son, three cats and a fat yellow Labrador live near the beach in New Jersey, where she is active in efforts to preserve open space and wetlands.

P.O. Box 3100, Harvey Cedars New Jersey 08008
email • fax (609) 597-0422

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