Poem of the Fortnight

This poem surprised me. I try to take a new poem each time I go to my twice-monthly critique group. A few weeks ago I was running out of time to come up with something new and pulled out a notebook. I found this poem, based on an exercise in Mary Kinzie’s “A Poet’s Guide to Poetry”:  write in the voice of a relative reflecting on a holiday, in blank verse (iambic pentameter) and at least 20 lines long. I have never written poetry in anything but free verse, so it had been a challenge. The stresses (the rhythm of five sets of short-long beats per line) still aren’t perfect, but for a first effort it’s pretty satisfying, and I think too much allegiance to the beat can become sing-song-y.

I wrote it imagining what my mother might have thought on a busy holiday weekend in her little beach community.

The draft was dated May 29, 2005. My mother died on October 30 of that year. Thanks to my niece, Michelle, for tracking down the wonderful old photo of Mom on a North Sea beach, circa 1930.

Memorial Day, Flagler Beach, Florida, 2005

Nowhere to go. I am alone and wish

someone would visit, come and take me out.

My daughter phones. Your beach is near, she says,

so with my cane I make my way by slow

and labored steps.

The sun’s not set. It’s still

a good day for the beach as moms and dads,

babies, toddlers, teenage boys and girls chase

waves, while couples in love and not much else

embarrass me. I turn toward the pier,

see boys on surfboards, fishermen still out

as evening sunlight fades. I find a bench

to rest my aching legs, appreciate

the mildness of the breeze as seashore sounds

transport me back to beaches of my youth,

remembering the briny North Sea smell

and woolen swimsuits, playful times with friends.

If only I could swim here now in warm

Atlantic surf. But shaky legs betray

me on the sand, the sun is going down.

With cane in hand I leave the beach behind,

begin my solitary walk back home.

My mother, Thelma Metcalfe Wiggins, on a beach somewhere on the northeast coast of England in the early 1930s. Quite the bathing beauty!

Mom and Gary on our last visit with her around her 92nd birthday, July 2005.

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4 responses to “Poem of the Fortnight”

  1. Pillows A-La-Mode says :

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your touching poem.

  2. Michelle Riesterer says :

    I love it… almost made me cry. I miss her so much. I think of her everyday; I know her spirit must be with me because she is always in my thoughts.

  3. Lisa says :

    Lovely on so many levels! What a beautiful young woman on the beach and in Gary’s handheld walk. Thank you for your poem, says it all!

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