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163 At the beach, many years ago, with my family, bitten by the wind, Pebbled by whipping sand, my sister older and remote and fifteen, My mother leery of the water, my dad as usual calm and dignified Though hilariously & uncharacteristically wearing swimming trunks, The sandwiches gritty, the grapes sugared by sand, our cookie bits Drawing gangs of grim seagulls, the people of every color swirling Around us, their musical incomprehensible imprecations and radio Stations, a man drowns; there is a shrill and a blare and a lifeguard Brown as dusk sprints like a fullback through the whirling children Along the murmuring shore his brilliant float trailing him like a sin. A few moments later they hauled in the dead man mottled and blue And that was that. I remember there was a man selling beer and ice That day, walking through the crowd, wary of the beach patrol cop. I remember burly boys diving into the relentless surf after footballs. I remember terns whiter than white cut against blue sharp as knives. I remember my youngest brother weeping, his face masked by sand. Late in the afternoon it grew cold and we packed up and went home. I remember the sand in the car, the grizzled salt of my dad’s haircut. We regret what we forget but we remember far more than we forget: We forget that. Once a man sold beer and ice; another drank the sea. My mother wore a green suit. There were beautiful girls by the jetty. Jones Beach brian doyle ...


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