—Revere Beach, Massachusetts
I’m one of just a handful of walkers
on this bright but cool June day;
the ocean’s at sixty degrees, if that.
I nod to the young man sitting, watching
the only swimmer paddling around.
Can you tell that she’s Ukrainian?
he pipes out of the clear blue sky,
and he continues, She’s my mother.
Two weeks ago I flew to Ukraine
to rescue her and bring her here.
That stops me in my tracks; I ask
what that was like. Complicated
and hairy, he says. I nod, picture
chaos, and ask if she will she stay
in this country. Yes, she’ll go on
living with me, he says with pride
spread across his sunburned face.
I wish him the best of luck, then turn
to glance at the woman again. Wading
in to shore, she’s in her underwear,
and grins as she returns my wave.
I’m guessing if you flee your war-torn
land, the last thing that you’d think
to take would be your bathing suit.
by Barbara Lydecker Crane
Editor’s Note: This narrative poem somehow manages to convey joy via the contrast with war with a skillful and delicate touch.
Poet’s Note: This poem is 100% true. You never know what stories you will hear from a stranger, just by nodding and smiling to someone at the beach.