Rhode Island

Here at the seashore they use the clouds over & over
again, like the rented animals in Aïda.
In the late morning the land breeze
turns and now the extras are driving
all the white elephants the other way.
What language are the children shouting in?
He is lying on the beach listening.

The sand knocks like glass, struck by bare heels.
He tries to remember snow noise.
Would powder snow ping like that?
But you don't lie with your ear to powder snow.
Why doesn't the girl who takes care
of the children, a Yale girl without flaw,
know the difference between lay and lie?

He tries to remember snow, his season.
The mind is in charge of things then.
Summer is for animals, the ocean is erotic,
all that openness and swaying.
No matter how often you make love
in August you're always aware of genitalia,
your own and the half-naked others'.
Even with the gracefulest bathers
you're aware of their kinship with porpoises,
mammals disporting themselves in a blue element,
smelling slightly of fish.Porpoise Hazard
watches himself awhile, like a blue movie.

In the other hemisphere now people
are standing up, at work at their easels.
There they think about love at night
when they take off their serious clothes
and go to bed sandlessly, under blankets.

Today the children, his own among them,
are apparently shouting fluently in Portuguese,
using the colonial dialect of Brazil.
It is just as well, they have all been changed
into small shrill marginal animals,
he would not want to understand them again
until after Labor Day.He just lays there.

by William Morris Meredith Jr.

Comments (3)

An exquisite poem, such beauty in the lines, 'Summer is for animals, the ocean is erotic, all that openness and swaying. No matter how often you make love in August you're always aware of genitalia, your own and the half-naked others'. Even with the gracefulest bathers you're aware of their kinship with porpoises, mammals disporting themselves in a blue element, smelling slightly of fish.Porpoise Hazard watches himself awhile, like a blue movie. :) 10+++ Sadly an inferior poemhunter.com sensor has delighted the rare beauty of my own past lines for saying less. The moral seems to be, the empowered prude, is ever the enemy of art.
Ironic how he asks himself why the girl who takes care of the children doesn't know the difference between lay and lie, and in the very last line he says He just LAYS there. Grammatically correct would be He just LIES there. I'm sure he did this deliberately to startle the readers and not because he didn't himself know the difference.
This poem reads like a short comentary in a poetic way. I like what the poet says of August There is suggestion of sex here, but it is slightly explicit, nothing vulgar with the diction used. Good read. Luis Estable