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Beautiful Place by the Sea

by Mel Waldman

Before the crepuscular beings rose with the rising sun,
I left the violence and madness behind and drove off,

dreaming of a better place —

a place of peace and beauty, perhaps, bestowed upon the
people living there by divine intervention.

I left Brooklyn, my dark home and mysterious womb of
my existence, in the middle of the night,

and traveled north!

On the road, I listened to the news and discovered that a
tornado had struck Brooklyn an hour after I had left.

I had barely escaped the devastating storm that had
ravaged homes in Bay Ridge.

On my journey, I also heard rumors about Ogunquit, Maine.
The Abenaki Indians called it the

beautiful place by the sea.

Enchanted by these seductive tales, I drove to Ogunquit,
hoping to discover a magical town of destiny.

I arrived in Ogunquit in pitch-black darkness and got a room
at the Seafarer Motel, half a mile south of the town on US 1.

The first night I ate supper up the road and to the right at
Jonathan’s, returned to my solitary room and slept till dawn.

The following morning, I walked north along Main Street. At
Bourne Lane, I turned right and strolled past Jonathan’s and

Josias Park which looked like a sinister, impenetrable forest.
When I passed the Barn Gallery, I turned right again and

continued along Shore Road. At a turning point, there was a
sign. I bore left and followed Oarweed Road into

Perkins Cove, a small, picturesque harbor of majestic beauty.

Near the harbor, in a corner of Oarweed Cove, I discovered the
Marginal Way, a footpath that

winds along the granite cliffs for over a mile.
It begins or ends in Perkins Cove.

I strolled along the Marginal Way
and began another journey —
a surreal exploration by the panoramic seascape.

The sprawling sun seemed to cover me beneath a glorious canopy
of grandeur as I meandered along the narrow path.

On the way, I passed other travelers moving in both directions.

From time to time, I sat on a memorial bench (there were thirty
along the Marginal Way) and slowly took in

the overwhelming beauty surrounding me.

The turquoise ocean was tranquil and the calm sky was azure and

Nearby, I noticed evergreen and birch trees. The evergreens rose
high toward the Heavens,

like ancient centurions guarding the way to the King’s palace,
protecting the birch trees and the humans below.

After resting serenely, I continued on my journey.
Zephyrs brushed across my face.
But soon they were gone, and suddenly, a

powerful wind appeared and swept across the Marginal Way.
Still, I moved slowly, refusing to turn back,

smelling pink and white sea roses and other fragrant flowers.
The sea roses were twisted but exquisitely enchanting-beautiful.

The sky became dark and sinister, like an El Greco painting, a
harbinger of a storm coming my way.

I meandered along the Marginal Way and rushed slowly toward
the Ogunquit Beach, where other humans lay peacefully,

unwilling to escape from a dark storm that seemed imminent.

And the Darkness passed. The storm never arrived. I saw it in the
distance. Then suddenly, it disappeared and the sprawling sun

covered the town again.

Soon, I came to the end (or the beginning) of the Marginal Way,
by the Ogunquit Beach, a magnificent expanse of primordial

beauty, spanning over three miles of pristine white sand.

I swallowed the seascape and sauntered off to the center of town.

I wandered through the town, discovering jazz-restaurants, art galleries,
and quaint shops.

Eventually, I ate a late lunch at Bessie’s on Main Street. Then I strolled
down Beach Street,

and sat for a few minutes on a bench on River Road overlooking the Ogunquit River.

I watched men and women standing and fishing in the middle of the river.

Soon, I drifted off to the beach and watched a golden sunset.

Afterwards, I had an early dinner on the patio at the Blue Water Inn
overlooking the Ogunquit River.

A few folks were still fishing after sunset, and they seemed vibrant,
as if the sun’s vanishing rays had energized them.

Vicariously, I imagined the heat of the sun spreading across my weary
body too. And spiritually, I felt reborn.

Later, I returned to the center of town and drifted from place to place.

The town swallowed me as I listened to its haunting and familiar melodies.
And I seemed to dance across Phantasmagoria,

hypnotized by the seductive, surreal beats and rhythms of this mystical place.

When I awakened the next morning, I was immersed in a haunting sea of

I returned to Perkins Cove.

I browsed around a quaint little art gallery and the owner suggested I visit the
Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA).

She gave me directions and I thanked her. But once I left the gallery, I got lost.
My eyes darted across the street searching for help.

A tall, thin man dressed in black smiled at me and asked me if I was lost.
When I explained my situation, he gave me new directions to the museum.

I crossed a draw-footbridge that spans the entrance to Perkins Cove.

Slowly, I approached the center of the bridge. Then I stopped to take in the
grand view. And suddenly, I heard a loud bell chiming

and leaped backwards as the bridge opened up.

Soon, a high-masted boat passed through, entering the charming little harbor.
Afterwards, when the manually-operated bridge was intact again,

I crossed over to the other side. I turned left and walked along a narrow path.
Then I turned right onto Woodbury Lane and continued on Woodbury Lane

until I came to Shore Road. On Shore Road, I turned left and in the distance,
I saw the entrance to the museum.

The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is nestled in a meadow overlooking
Narrow Cove and the Atlantic Ocean.

Beautiful and grotesque sculptures adorn the pristine meadow.

Before entering OMAA, called “the most beautiful little museum in the world,”
I stopped to look at a metallic sculpture: Man of Assisi by John Dirks.

The powerful piece, immersed in darkness, seemed to beckon me.
Perhaps hypnotized, I rushed slowly to the Being in mixed metal.

As I approached it, I was turned on and terrified.
The lifeless metal seemed omnipotent and eternal-

& in a state of dynamic flux-flowing and evolving
through a dark metamorphosis-compelling and

creepy and other-worldly.

I stepped back and scurried off to OMAA. But I had entered an altered state
of consciousness and could not escape from Phantasmagoria.

In this dreamlike state, I entered OMAA.

In the distance, my frenzied eyes darted across the main gallery.
They leaped through the glass wall at the other end of the

elongated room and into the vast ocean beyond.

I plunged into the Abyss!

When I returned, I had lost time. Half an hour had passed.
Had I suffered a blackout?

I could not recall what had happened during this weird episode of missing time.

My body felt strange, too, and I had difficulty breathing. Soon I was gasping for air,
as if I had almost drowned and was still choking from loss of oxygen.

I scurried to the bathroom and spat out a torrent of cascading water.

Afterwards, I sauntered off, discovering the oils and watercolors of Jamie Wyeth,
the prints of Jacob Lawrence, and the oils and pastels from France of Connie Hayes.

Later, after leaving OMAA, I sat on a bench near the entrance and gazed at the
beautiful and grotesque sculptures in the distance.

Once again, the metallic sculpture seemed to beckon me.
I rushed slowly to the Man of Assisi.

A familiar voice cried out: “Would you like me to take a picture of you
next to the sculpture?”

I turned around and saw the tall, thin man dressed in black who had given
me directions to OMAA.

“No!” I said with much emotion as images of fire and ice assaulted my mind.

And then I looked closely at the emaciated, ghostly man.
His dark eyes met mine and my body trembled.

“No thank you!”

He smiled sardonically and sauntered off.

That night I dreamed of the Man of Assisi and the skeletal stranger dressed in black.

I never returned to OMAA. But the dark Spirit I discovered there remains ensconced
in my anguished soul.

And the rest of my stay in Ogunquit was phantasmagoric-endlessly dreamlike and dark.

Ogunquit is a beautiful place by the sea. Yet after viewing the Man of Assisi,
the town no longer filled my soul with beauty and grandeur.

It drowned my soul in a sea of terror.

I left in the middle of a surreal night. I drove south and headed home.
After driving for an hour, I saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road.

I slowed down to pick up the stranger. But when I recognized his face
and saw the disposable camera in his hands, I drove off.

Now, I’ve been driving for many hours. It seems I’m lost. Did I make a wrong turn?

I’m no longer on Route 1. And I’m not on I-95 South. Don’t see any signs to Brooklyn, New York.

I’m lost on a dark, winding country road.

In the distance, I see a man on the side of the road.
Perhaps I’ll stop and ask him for directions.

When I slow down, the stranger rushes in front of my car and around to the
left side of the vehicle. He bends over and looks at me through the left window.

It’s the same man-the skeletal man from Ogunquit!
How can this be?

I’m about to drive off again. But a compelling voice inside commands me to stop
and pick up the man in black.

What shall I do on this surreal night?

I gaze at the stranger standing outside my car. And now, I see...
It can’t be!

I see the Man of Assisi and he’s pounding on the window.
When I look again, he’s gone!

I close my eyes for a few eternal seconds. Slowly, I open them
and look once more. Yes, he’s gone!

I am about to drive off. But the ghostly stranger leaps in front of my car.
Instinctively, my right foot crushes the brakes although I will it to depress

the gas pedal.

The tall, thin man in black waves at me and then brandishes a camera.
He smiles sardonically.

Then he looks through the camera and points it at me.
I gaze quizzically at the stranger.

I am safe. Because...
I look to my right.

Next to me, the Man of Assisi sits still.
I sit motionless too.

We are a tableau vivant!

Lost on a dark, winding country road, on this eternal surreal night,
I wait.

And the familiar stranger points the camera at us.
He waits too... across eternity... waiting for the

proper moment to snap a dark picture...

Frozen, I gaze into the omnipotent
camera and discover a

beautiful place by the sea.

Copyright © 2007 by Mel Waldman

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