Beach Day

Loading up the car.
Bathing suit and sandals on.
Going to the beach!

Sun-shaded driveway.
Beach umbrella, big blue jug,
Sandwiches, goosebumps.

Things with salty smells
Send us to the sandy shore,
Waiting in the car.

Finally, she comes!
Car keys jingling their promise
Of sand and humped waves.

Terry-cloth beach robe,
With sunglasses and tight curls,
Mom comes in the car.

(Unseen, inside her,
Dougie, in that inner sea,
Rides waves of his own).

Chilly driveway gone,
Driving in the sunny wind.
Windows all rolled down.

Familiar landmarks
Pass along the well-known route.
Comics speed the time.

Airliner tails shine
At Idlewild, on the left.
Glimpses through hangars.

"Charlie" Battery.
(Army anti-aircraft base).
Quonset huts and trucks.

Houses on their stilts;
The great old green P.T. boat;
Cattails and red-wings.

Camp with carousel.
Now we're most of the way there!
Here's Jamaica Bay!

Grassy Island clumps;
Fishermen by the bridge rails;
Gratings buzz below.

The last obstacle:
Is the drawbridge up or down?
Wait with mixed feelings.

Then down the last ramp
To the Land of Bungalows.
Magic Rockaway!

* * *

Parking takes too long,
But we're lucky and it's close;
The trek won't be bad.

Our bare, sweaty legs
Feel the real sea breeze at last!
The umbrella's mine.

Past the little homes
We waddle with our beach gear,
Listening for surf.

"Tommy, hold my hand!"
There is the wave-shaped bus stop
And boardwalk beyond.

Gulls cry overhead.
White on blue, they glide and swoop
To find a bread crust.

I hear a wave thump.
Riding them will be scary.
I can hardly wait.

We first see the sea.
Waves rise, curl, and crash in foam.
A truck harvests trash.

Early sun shadows
Highlight roaming scavengers-
More gulls than people.

Lifeguards in orange
Scan the waves through sunglasses
Over white noses.

I stake out our spot,
Setting up our umbrella.
Red, white, yellow stripes.

Spread out the blanket.
"Quit kicking sand all over!"
Toes wiggle in sand.

Is the water cold?
We run to catch the foam rush,
Cool air on bare chests.

It's still way too cold!
"Let's find shells and dig sand crabs!"
"Let's look for money!"

Mom's reading her book;
Jeannie buries Chrissy's legs;
Tommy follows me.

I use a piece of shell
To draw a Stegosaurus.
Erased by a wave.

* * *

Time to try the waves!
I run bravely to my waist,
Tiptoeing on shells.

Timing the wave-swell;
Turning, jumping. Just missed me!
Here comes the next one!

Push off for the beach.
Arms out, feeling for bottom.
Legs spread for control.

Churning, rushing ride.
Body gliding in bubbles.
Hands hit; up for air.

Stagger a few steps,
Then turn and lunge back to sea.
Dive under a wave.

Wait for the next one.
Sun glinting in squinted eyes;
Seaweed wraps my feet.

Water streams off me,
Plastering my hair. Salty.
Here comes a good one!

* * *

Soon it's time for lunch.
Peanut butter and jelly,
Iced tea, cookies, sand.

Fruits of the Summer ...
Nectarines, peaches ... and plums
That pucker your lips.

We dig sand tunnels,
Imagining ourselves there
Driving our toy cars.

How to kill an hour?
(So we can avoid the Cramps).
Let's look for crab claws.

Jetties bound each beach,
Their pilings exploding waves
While housing starfish.

Checking the seaweed,
Jeannie finds a sun-cooked claw
to make Chrissy scream.

Church bells ring nearby;
People stop their games and stand.
It's the Angelus.

Twenty minutes left.
We smooth sand over our legs,
Becoming race cars.

As parole time nears
Wiggling toes destroy our "hoods";
Legs erupt from sand.

* * *

Race down to the surf;
Jump one wave and chest the next;
Turn and crouch. Ready.

A huge wave rears up.
Try to ride, or duck under?
People scream. I lunge.

Face down, I'm lifted
Then slammed into gravel.
I skid up to shore.

My chest is bleeding;
My hands are scraped, but I feel

Back and forth I run.
Wave after wave. Breathing hard.
Surf-riding frenzy.

Then my foot comes down
And the "bottom" moves away!
I jump in terror.

Water seems like glue.
Stumbling to shore, arms swinging.
Sharp shells forgotten.

* * *

"Let's get some knishes!"
Sandals on. Money from Mom.
Hike to Fitzgerald's.

Potato pillows
Deep-fried, brown and wonderful!
Ketchup and mustard.

Hurry back to Mom.
No one can have a bite yet.
Self-control is hard.

Once we reach the shade
We divide our three prizes
And feast in silence.

Drink some more iced tea.
The big blue jug is empty.
Might as well go home.

* * *

"Let's pack up the stuff."
"Anybody want a plum?"
"One more sandwich left."

"We want the cookies!"
(Marshmallow sandwich cookies
Stuck to waxed paper).

"Where did Tommy go?"
"There he is! In the water!"
"Now he's wet again!"

Tommy kicks and screams,
Being dry means he's going home.
We know how he feels.

Looks like we're ready.
Now everything seems heavy.
One last sad look back.

We trudge through the sand,
Trying not to hear the waves.
The boardwalk's crowded.

Mom heads for the car
While we sit in the bus stop,
Energy all gone.

The car's an oven.
We spread damp towels on the seats,
But still stick to them.

* * *

The ride home seems fast,
Despite the crawling traffic.
We doze off, listless.

At home we unpack;
Rinse off the salt with the hose;
Shower and get dressed.

Our clothes seem so fresh.
Soon it will be dinner time.
Daddy will be home!

Time for stoop ball.
Maybe tomorrow will be
Another beach day!


With love for my family now and then
For making my memories of Summer so happy.
- Michael T. Yanega ©7/5/87


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