Family on Stone Harbor Beach
If only I could have joined them,
the clean-shaven father
in madras shorts who strained to manage
both umbrella and cooler in the sand.
He reached for the freckle-faced
woman beside him.
Their boy tugged at the towels
slung over her left shoulder.
They chose a remote spot near the dunes
but I saw them from the dock.
The boy helped his father secure
the beach umbrella with a hammer.
Soon, he ran, laughing, toward the waves.
The father produced a ball,
joined his son at the water’s edge
and threw it to him.
Boats bobbed in the distance
like bathtub toys;
a lazy airplane banner touted Goodrich tires.
The mother put on a straw hat
and started to read the newspaper.
This was the family I might have had.
My own father let my mother and me
drag him to the seashore once,
but wore a sports coat and dress shoes.
He wouldn’t go anywhere near the ocean.
My mother’s wet bathing suit
dripped on his oxfords. They argued,
then we endured a long car ride home, in silence.
Now, the mother removed three sandwiches
from the cooler and waved.
Father and son, bodies bronze,
stood in the sun and waved back.
Only one thing was missing,
it would have made them too perfect— a dog.
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