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Angry Scrooge

Poem "A Day at theBeach"

I found the following poem at Garrison Keilor’s "Writer’s Almanac."  I just like and want to keep it.

                             A Day at the Beach

           If he had been paying more attention
           to whatever my mother was saying
           from her hat beneath the umbrella

           or watching more closely over my brother,
           off playing somewhere with his shovel and pail,
           or me, idly tracing my name in the sand

           if he hadn’t had that faraway look,
           gazing out to where the freighters crawled along
           the horizon — so that when he suddenly

           pushed up and off, sand in his wake, visor
           taking wing behind, you could believe,
           as he churned toward the glassy water,

           that it had just come to him to chuck it all,
           this whole idea of family, and make
           for those southeast bound freighters and the islands —

           then he might have never seen the arm heaved up,
           the lifeguards running just as my father
           was lifting the old man out of the surf

           and bearing him ashore, the blue receding
           from his cramped limbs.. And as a crowd closed around
           the gasping figure struggling to his knees

           my father turned back to us — sheepishly,
           almost, back to the endless vigilance
           of husband and father, which was all

           he had ever asked for in the first place.

          — Peter Schmidt (from Hazard Duty,
               Copper Beach Press, 1995)

I really like the line "the endless vigilance of husband and father."  Francis Bacon once said, "Any man with a family is a hostage to fate."


 

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