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The Drowning

ISSUE:  Spring 1992
My mother told me the story, and I believed it:
About the boy who went out too far,
Beyond the voices of older sister and smarter brother,
Exhausted father smoking a cigar and reading the paper,
Distracted mother changing the baby’s diaper:
He left them behind and walked into the sea
And vanished in the foam and never came back.

And I promised that I wouldn’t do what he did
But I wanted to know more about him, and vowed
To bring him back to life, and my mother laughed.

And I am still that boy standing on the shore
Alone, abandoned by his grown-up brother, or
Stranded with the stranger that he married
And their ill-tempered brood, with sand in their hair,
As the waves advance, the spray hits the air
Like snow falling upwards, and nothing will bring him
The redhaired boy who commanded the waves,
With a conductor’s wand, before he disappeared in the sea,
In the story my mother told so well that even though
She made it up I was sure it had happened to me.


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