Harriet, Chain of Lakes, City of Water

Dragging the Beach

 

I was eight years old the year I dragged the beach

That day the whistles from the lifeguards blew, shrill

Blasts of sound repeating, urgent and foreboding

Broken only by the call of voices; commanding

Everybody in, every-body in

 

Arms waving, ushering all of us off the dock

Calling us in, out of the cool water, back to the beach

To the hot sand, to the waiting arms of moms and dads

Me, to my oldest sister and her friends who took me there

The year that Star Wars came to theatres

The summer I dragged the beach, It was scorching

In August, that day we waited, for a word, for news

Waited for someone, we waited…for the police

And a boy who was missing, a boy who could not hear the whistle calling

Every-body in, every body in

 

Arms waving below the surface, trapped beneath the dock

Flailing for help in the cold-cold water, stretching toward the beach

Reaching, the end of his breath, hoping for arms and hands

For mom and dad, to free him from that place

On the day I dragged the beach, the police diver went ahead

Went into the water, where the rest of us followed, arms linked

A chain of people, stretched from buoy to buoy, from end to end

Hand in hand, stepping slowly into the darkened lake

Every body in, E v e r y b o d y i n

 

We walked out to the buoys, and were told to stop, our human chain

dragging the shallows for the body of the missing boy, I imagined

Finding him, the memory of that imagining still finds me

From that hot day in August, in the hour we dragged the beach

 

I read this Poem from my Collection, at the June gathering of Poets n’ Pints, June 15th, 2016

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