For Doug and Cindy
Your mother only knew the comfort
Of gentle beaches with waves that caressed
And never battered holiday bathers.
She only knew the pacific beaches of
The Great Lakes and idyllic Asian islands.
She had never experienced the brutality
Of the Texas Gulf Coast, and she would
Have assumed “riptide” to be a video game
Or pop song, not a lethal feature of
A holiday destination.
And what better way to spend Mother’s Day
Than with your children at the beach?
It’s the stuff of Norman Rockwell cards
And saccharine American traditions.
And you both swam like stars.
You loved the diving board, and
You never left the deep end. You
Were invincible. I remember your
Laughter as you always escaped
In a game of water tag.
It’s easy to nod off at the beach, or
Just break concentration for a
Moment as the breeze kisses your cheek.
In an instant, you may
Realize you no longer hear the
Joyous cacophony of childhood laughter.
In an instant, your sister is gone
Under the punishing waves and against
The unforgiving grain of packed sand.
I don’t know, but I think you tried to
Find her, giving your last
Conscious moments to her aid.
Somehow, your body stayed with us,
On machines, for three more days.
I can’t describe the unreality of those
Days, but it finally ended to the chords
Of “Born in the USA,” which your patriot
Father asked the radio station to play
Over the air as your body
Was finally permitted to lay at rest.
Through the tears, I still chuckled at the
Irony, as you were born in Japan, and
Your father had never listened to
The lyrics of that song.