By Peg Boyers
It was a beach
like all beaches, only perhaps more beautiful.
And the sand was pink not red.
We would arrive in caravans,
hampers overflowing with food and drink
like Aziz and his party on the way to Malabar.
The colonials and their servants away on an outing.
We would stop under thatch umbrellas,
towels and tablecloths spread out against the sea.
My mother in her skirted swim suit
surrounded by fathers of other children,
her olive skin lit through her straw hat.
They would laugh and drink beer
while the children did the usual beach things,
boring futile tunnels to China, running
at waves and then away,
daring each other to be swallowed.
I would go out by the forbidden rocks and pick off oysters,
then give them to the men to pry open,
cover with lime juice and suck dry.
Once, I saw my mother sucking
an oyster out of another daddy's hand.
Her dappled face bobbed and smiled and her tongue
searched the shell for pearls.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinky in The Washington Post Book World, a column on poetry inspired by Cuban life before Castro. "An engaging, poignant group of poems in Peg Boyers's new book, Honey with Tobacco, includes childhood memories of that time," Pinsky writes. "Boyers declines mere nostalgia, as in this poem that scrutinizes pleasure-seeking, a leisured class, even memory itself, with a cool attention, analytical as well as sympathetic. The reference to a central incident in E.M. Forster's novel A Passage to India operates as allusion should, as a compact, rapid inclusion of themes: in this case, the ambiguity of events, especially erotically charged events, the sinister underside of privilege, the prolonged receding and the long reach of colonial history, the interweaving of private life and social reality. The vivid childhood memory, seen from the perspective of the adult poet who has read Forster, mingles the language of 'another daddy' with 'the colonials and their servants away on an outing.' Boyers's poem, mingling innocence and knowledge, takes its place in the long tradition of idylls, pastorals, depictions of pleasure and elegant surfaces, with their underlying or suppressed realities.
I'm in Pennsylvania at my in-laws' where I am still recovering from a day of sun and a huge Mexican dinner. We spent most of today in Gettysburg, where there are reenactors doing various events for Memorial Day weekend...we missed the cavalry because the newspaper had it listed for the wrong time, but we met some of the people who specialize in costumes and armaments and climbed the lookout towers along with enormous groups of Boy Scouts who were apparently having some sort of gathering in the park. Our kids prefer scrambling on the rocks at Devil's Den to monument-hunting, so we did quite a bit of that, too.
A company of Confederate reenactors from Virginia came over the hill...
..and stopped for a rest by Spangler's Spring, where both Union and Confederate soldiers stopped to drink before and during the Battle of Gettysburg.
The area is ringed with monuments and memorials.
Here is one from my own state.
In the late afternoon we stopped at Hanover Shoe Farms to see the baby horses -- foals are born all through the spring, and there were five or six in one of the open stables today, including one that was born a day and a half ago, plus a mare going into labor who looked quite wild-eyed. Then we went to the aforementioned Mexican restaurant, El Rodeo, where I had chicken tacos and other people had an assortment of burritos, fajitas, enchiladas and mucho nachos. We had a quiet evening...the bunnies were out in the backyard, though the groundhogs did not deign to make an appearance (we're hoping to see them in the morning). Ginger is moving very slowly these days...she's going on 17, quite old for a beagle, and every time we leave I am worried we might not see her again.
I believe we are going to POTC3 on Sunday afternoon since I'm the only one of us who has seen it...whoo! Still not sure yet whether we are going home Sunday night or Monday morning, since we have plans with my parents for my father's birthday on Monday.