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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Feb 18, 2020

February 19, 2020

Jennifer Poteet

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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