The Beach by Natalie Tomlin


for Jason


First, our mothers took us there—

Flash bulb world where

we wouldn’t cast a shadow.


Years later, down streets

like strips of ripped paper,

from main drag toward the lake,

deals outside our parents’ houses,

twenty-five feet from the water

but fifteen degrees warmer

for the breeze

could not reach us.


So we went to the beach—

Silent slide of boats.

Cool embrace of sand.

Hushing narcotic tide.


Was it because Detroit was a mere

forty-five minutes away

or that I-94 ended at the lake?

Or was it Pharma pushing Vicodin?


I still have that photo of us:

five and tan. Should I go to

the beach to remember

or to hear how you were taken?

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