From the Shore

This poem has a wonderful perspective from the child’s view standing on the edge of the ocean. In every line, I was right there in the poem seeing and feeling it all.  It is also one of those poems that keeps on giving, it is one to read over and over.

From the Shore                                                                                 Denise Duhamel

Michele and I pull out our feet from the mud, and begin

to scream from a new spot. We think you are going to drown.

You won’t look back as you swim to the middle of the ocean.

“But Ma!” we call. Chills through our arms, down

through out legs as though we’ve been struck still by lightning

and no one will touch us. We’re afraid to touch each other.

If only we could jump out past our bodies, the small ones

you had to lift up when the waves came. Michele and I clung

to your sides and still mouthfuls of salt water.

Had we dragged mud from the sand castle to the blanket

or sung too loud or fought with each other? The foam

like thrown toys breaking at our feet, unsteadying us.

At sunset, the family beach mostly cleared,

a lady with red veins on her legs and a bathing suit with a skirt

stops to helps us. We point you out, the only mother

in the lineup, Your face, a small craft at the point where water

meets choppy sky. The lady says it’s about to rain

and starts yelling with us, demanding you get back on shore

to take care of your daughters. I know we’ve made a mistake

as you turn around and see Michele and me with this other adult.

All the ocean goes silent—the sea sounds, the gulls.

It’s like watching TV with the sound turned off.

You rise from the water like a wet monster and the lady,

in a rage, begins to yell and I guess you yell back:

my ears are murmuring a quiet that’s louder.

I vow never to tell on anyone again—if ever I see a kid hitting

another kid, if ever I see someone robbing a bank.

My whole body shakes, the sound inside a seashell.

You yank Michele’s arm and mine, saying,

“Can’t I have one Goddamn minute alone?”

You yank Michele’s arm and mine, saying,

“Can’t I have one Goddamn minute alone?”

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