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Beach
by Mary McCarthy

One man caught too far out
Pulled under
The indifferent swell
His last struggle seen
The sirens wail down the sand
The searchers pass
Cutting a grid across
The dark surge
The helicopter beats
A tight circle
Widening, narrowing
Over and over

Not far away
Children scatter
At the surf’s edge
Laughing and calling
In glad abandon
Mothers cradle and hold
Their youngest
Rocking them
in the pool’s
tame water–

some crowd up close
but most continue
their pleasures unaware
of the loss of one
more stranger–
the newscaster said
no one was
reported missing–
he might have always been
homeless

And I won’t sleep that night
keeping vigil for a stranger
listening through the hours
to the sound of the helicopter
circling in the dark
its searchlight moving
over black water
long past any hope of rescue
or recovery

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at thirty.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This event was extremely unsettling to me, as I always felt the beach was a place of peace, joy, relaxation—a sort of eden—I suppose a foolish assumption in the light of the power of nature to end life so capriciously.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work included in many on line and print journals, including Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday, The Evening Street Review, Expound, and Earth’s Daughters. She spends her time on writing and drawing, and has high hopes for a better world, despite the daily news, filled with reports of war and other calamities.