A Cottage in Sag Harbor
My mother showed me the photo,
the cottage, the sea, the shore
and told me we needed to go—
away from here, and him,
and everything that was going wrong.
It would be best for us all
and, she swore, it would be just a while,
maybe two weeks, a month, or the summer
if we liked. I could call it a vacation,
if my friends should ask, though I knew they would know.
And it’s nice out there and cool with a breeze
and we’d take a bus and bring only what we need.
My kid brother would thrive in the sun, the sand–
and even if not, we’d have each other,
and Dad will be fine,
he knows how to care for himself—
he can open a can of soup and make eggs.
I looked at my father, dead asleep
on the floor, and told her–
till then, the hardest thing I’d ever said–
Looks nice, Mom,
but I’m staying here with him.
by Alan Walowitz
Editor’s Note: The last two lines in this poem carry the entire thing from nostalgia into purpose.