santa cruz boardwalk.jpg
On the Beach
by Jennifer Lagier

Every summer we caravanned
from Central Valley orchards
to Santa Cruz beachfront,
cars filled with folding chairs, towels,
aunts, uncles, cousins.

My grandmother brought iced tea,
jugs of sugary red Kool-Aid
enhanced with pungent pineapple juice.
Mom packed an ice chest
with potato salad, watermelon,
greasy fried chicken.

We staked out territory
at boardwalk’s edge
near carnival rides
and the late afternoon shade
it would provide
for the painfully sunburnt.

All day we collected broken shells,
waded into salty surf,
let muscular breakers
pummel us underwater
into churning seaweed and sand.

PHOTO: Postcard of Santa Cruz, California, boardwalk.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a child, most of my swimming experiences took place in ditches or irrigation canals, so it was a big treat to visit the beach once a year with my family. Now I live just off Marina State Beach and can enjoy it on a daily basis!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published ten books and in literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Forthcoming books: Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Visit her at

Author photo by Laura Bayless.