ben waggoner
For the Young Boy in a Wheelchair at a Florida Beach
by Shawn Aveningo

I see the longing
as you gaze toward the sea.
Sharks, sunscreen, jellyfish
—the least of your concern.
You leave no footprints
in the powdery, white sand.
Instead, two ruts
like those I imagine
of slugs on steroids.

Among your comrades—
beached whales,
oil slicked birds,
fallen feathers now flightless
—you tediously roll on.
Palms calloused,
feet forever tender,
soon to realize
the closest to the sea
you’ll be
is the ocean’s roar.

Cupping a vacuous nautilus to your ear
you listen for God’s answer.
Your daily plea…

Momma always says
I’m a good boy.
So why me?

PHOTO: “Wheelchair tracks on the beach” by Ben Waggoner. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Twenty years ago, we took our three young children to the beach on a family vacation in Destin, Florida. As my children frolicked in the sun, I noticed a young boy, around 10 years old, who was in a wheelchair. There were no paved ramps or boardwalks nearby to take him closer to the water, so he tried to roll through the powdery sand. This poem was born of that memory.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shawn Aveningo is a globally published poet whose work has appeared in over 100 literary journals and anthologies. She’s a Pushcart nominee, co-founder of The Poetry Box, managing editor for The Poeming Pigeon and journal designer for VoiceCatcher. Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in Portland, Oregon.