Losing My Six Year Old Brother at Venice Beach, 2003
He was only lost for an hour
on a lonely impulse-
but that hour marked the many
furrows of braided sand
from my mother’s agitated pacings,
the grumbling of engines
as we called one lifeguard, then another,
then the police. I remember
the live wire of word to mouth
each time we saw a boy running
through the pastel forest of umbrellas-
then silence, when we realized
each time that it wasn’t him.
I remember my mother
as she waited for the police-
how her thick, brown arms clenched me,
her sweat, as our hot skin bled baby oil,
and, through the folds of her sundress,
the skittish syncopation
of mother’s heartbeat waiting for son,
like the uneven cipher
of slippery rosary beads.
An hour later, he would return with tales
of the one-eyed lifeguard at Avenue G,
the curtain of doves that swung
around the mouth of the cove,
the ripe blue swells that burst
over the breakwater’s teeth.
But before that, I remember
tucking myself into a sitting ball
on the shore, chin on bony knees
in the waiting room of worry, as I stared
at the gilded haze that lay beyondthe rocky cross of a distant bar.
1. This poem is based on a true story. My family did lose Ethan once at Venice Beach, and there was a substantial communal freak-out over it. That was the first time in my life when I really considered the ideas of mortality and losing people.
2. The last line is a reference to Tennyson's "Crossing The Bar," which is all about mortality and loss and eternity. The phrase "lonely impulse" from the first stanza is a reference to Frost's "The Impulse," which is also about loss and eternity and losing people.
3. This is the first poem I presented in the first poetry workshop I've taken at USC so far! Just thought you'd be interested in that fun fact.
4. So this isn't about the poem at all... but I wrote my first article for the Daily Trojan this past weekend! It will probably be in Monday or Tuesday's issue so... keep an eye out for my writing in print!