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For Johnny Pole On The Forgotten Beach Analysis

Author: poem of Anne Sexton Type: poem Views: 4

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In his tenth July some instinct

taught him to arm the waiting wave,

a giant where its mouth hung open.

He rode on the lip that buoyed him there

and buckled him under. The beach was strung

with children paddling their ages in,

under the glare od noon chipping

its light out. He stood up, anonymous

and straight among them, between

their sand pails and nursery crafts.

The breakers cartwheeled in and over

to puddle their toes and test their perfect

skin. He was my brother, my small

Johnny brother, almost ten. We flopped

down upon a towel to grind the sand

under us and watched the Atlantic sea

move fire, like night sparklers;

and lost our weight in the festival

season. He dreamed, he said, to be

a man designed like a balanced wave...

how someday he would wait, giant

and straight.

Johnny, your dream moves summers

inside my mind.

He was tall and twenty that July,

but there was no balance to help;

only the shells came straight and even.

This was the first beach of assault;

the odor of death hung in the air

like rotting potatoes, the junkyard

of landing craft waited open and rusting.

The bodies were strung out as if they were

still reaching for each other, where they lay

to blacken, to burst through their perfect

skin. And Johnny Pole was one of them.

He gave in like a small wave, a sudden

hole in his belly and the years all gone

where the Pacific noon chipped its light out.

Like a bean bag, outflung, head loose

and anonymous, he lay. Did the sea move fire

for its battle season? Does he lie there

forever, where his rifle waits, giant

and straight?...I think you die again

and live again,

Johnny, each summer that moves inside

my mind.

Submitted by Venus


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