Girl of Summer
I had forgotten the small town girl of summer in me–
the good New England daughter in plaid pleated skirts and woolen knee socks,
in penny loafers shiny stiff each fall,
swapped out for salt-water stained topsiders in summer,
the worn cutoffs, the burn turned to tan, the girl in love with the ocean.
I had forgotten that girl who tore through boat yards on her bike with the boys,
who slid to a stop, popped off, raced down the dock, wheels still spinning in the dirt,
forgotten how she sailed and sailed until she turned too quickly this way or that, defiantly ignoring the will of the wind
and toppled over, keel up.
I had forgotten how she splashed and laughed and cursed and feigned outrage,
hoisting herself atop the centerboard, bouncing her slight weight
to right the boat.
I had forgotten how she would be up again
and sailing, skimming along, tempting the ocean
with sharp jives until she dipped deep and the water pulled her in once more,
the allure of the capsize so strong
that she never learned to read the winds
and sail straight.
Day after day, she returned to the dock
sopping wet, devouring ice cream sandwiches
and French fries and BLTs, as shoes dried salty stiff on the deck.
Late afternoon, she rode home satisfied, spent, a shade darker.
Come September, the ripped jeans stuffed
in a drawer, the wild girl of summer drifted away,
and away and away.
But here now, you remind me that I was once
that girl who sailed with no regard for the wind,
with no desire but to throw myself
into the pull of the deep ocean.
by Ann E. Wallace
Editor’s Note: Nostalgia for one’s past can often trap us in sadness, but the final stanza of this poem opens the emotion up with a more positive direction.