12 September 2010


My brothers Tim and John and me, with our father sailing behind us, somewhere on Cape Cod a long time ago. Photographed by our mother, Patience.

There were bees about. From the start I thought   
The day was apt to hurt. There is a high   
Hill of sand behind the sea and the kids   
Were dropping from the top of it like schools   
Of fish over falls, cracking skulls on skulls.   
I knew the holiday was hot. I saw   
The August sun teeming in the bodies   
Logged along the beach and felt the yearning   
In the brightly covered parts turning each   
To each. For lunch I bit the olive meat:   
A yellow jacket stung me on the tongue.   
I knelt to spoon and suck the healing sea ...
A little girl was digging up canals
With her toes, her arm hanging in a cast   
As white as the belly of a dead fish
Whose dead eye looked at her with me, as she   
Opened her grotesque system to the sea ...
I walked away; now quietly I heard   
A child moaning from a low mound of sand,   
Abandoned by his friend. The child was tricked,   
Trapped upon his knees in a shallow pit.   
(The older ones will say you can get out.)   
I dug him up. His legs would not unbend.   
I lifted him and held him in my arms   
As he wept. Oh I was gnarled as a witch   
Or warlock by his naked weight, was slowed   
In the sand to a thief’s gait. When his strength   
Flowed, he ran, and I rested by the sea ...
A girl was there. I saw her drop her hair,   
Let it fall from the doffed cap to her breasts   
Tanned and swollen over wine red woolen.   
A boy, his body blackened by the sun,   
Rose out of the sand stripping down his limbs   
With graceful hands. He took his gear and walked   
Toward the girl in the brown hair and wine
And then past me; he brushed her with the soft,   
Brilliant monster he lugged into the sea ...   
By this tide I raised a small cairn of stone
Light and smooth and clean, and cast the shadow   
Of a stick in a perfect line along
The sand. My own shadow followed then, until   
I felt the cold swirling at the groin.
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