The Jailor
by Barbara Bald

The beach speaks in low tones, an off-season lull.
Spreading towel on sands waiting for summer’s sun,
I position my chair facing the water’s edge.
Towel neatly folded, sunscreen calling,
I place my book beside the mat.

Near me a chipmunk scoots through crevices
in granite walls that line the shore.
He darts in and out in playful fashion,
stuffed cheeks sizing up the scene.

Diapers and swimsuit left behind,
a baby girl toddles to the water’s edge.
Wide eyes fixed on a black lab sharing her tub,
she plops bare-bottom on wet sand.

The spunky lab, tail, beating like a metronome,
leaps from spring waters; two sticks flying high
make his day.

I wish I could slide into holes full of mystery,
wish I could abandon suit and beach shoes,
not worry if sands are shifting, holes are dark or
that I might miss the stick.

I want to lift, ears flapping in total bliss, but
when risk is the enemy, prison bars erect themselves.
Over time, walls of a familiar house, a favorite shirt,
even mocha lattes, ordered again and again,
become self-appointed wardens.

The beach sign should read, Habits that start as cobwebs
can end as cables. Security can become the jailor
who guards the keys.

PHOTO: The author at Bamber Lake, New Jersey (2008).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant, and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems, Sun and Sand, The Widow’s Handbook, In Gilded Frame and many more. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast, and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. Her full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, New Hampshire, with her cat Catcher and two Siamese Fighting fish.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Reading at the Chichester, New Hampshire, Library.