Thinking of a Girl

Nearly Lost at Sea


Long Island Sound, summer of ’65.

Father growing gills from emphysema,

long-legged brother frowning

over minutiae in tidal pools

I lay on the beach

In my stretched out beige

one-piece bathing suit


Sweet sixteen and yearning

Rolling Stones throbbing

Hey, You– Get Offa My Cloud

from my state of the art

transistor radio


Sand in my eyes.

Mother back in the loaned house

drinking, in a scotch-rage

swearing on the phone

at our hosts, our uncle,


Mother, blob of protoplasm

passed out in a wingback chair

cigarette burns on Aunt Mary’s

hardwood floor, her Karistan

carpet.  Mother waking,



Screams at the daughter

and she goes down

to the end of Lawton Drive

where the Sound

plunges and plays.

The ocean, calling

Her name on the wind,

lapping at the rocks at midnight


Dive in, come with me, come away

Give up, let go, no more tears.


She talks herself back

from the huge green/black wave

kissing her toes

promising oblivion

guaranteeing delirium:


It would be folly now

in the midst of this long

swan dive,  our “vacation”-

We trudge on, we flail

We are all about try;


He did climb all the way up

to the crown in the Statue of Liberty

we did take the Staten Island Ferry

to see how the immigrants felt

She did take me to the New York Times

sixteen, clutching a folder of clips


Step back, shrink back

don’t let it suck you in

like the brave girl

Alone in the long night

of the Indian Ocean

broken boat and a teddy bear:


Your father’s nuts

to let you go out there

mine lets me

hang from the rigging:

he kisses me

and we go out to sea:


The waves crash and cry

birds in the dark, arcing

flash of wings

almost. I almost gave in, then

turned, ran back

my wet hand-me-down dress

slapping my legs.