by Bruce Sager

Here is the little guy
standing at the top of a dune
so that if you look up at him
all you see is a cut-out against the sky
and all the blue of his eyes
lost in the curtains of that sky.

Here is the band of his swimsuit
grinding against his waist,
here a wet red belt of planets
girdling his middle.

Here is his bucket.
Here are sand crabs scratching.
Here is the thin half-moon
of the handle, the metal settled
into the creases where his palm
flowers into his fingers joyfully,
artfully, mathematically,

flexibly, dependably,
and here is joy, for here
is the little guy standing atop
the light dune of memory
looking down at the woman
rejoicing in the sight of him
now, no longer alarmed
but yet repining, the woman
who has just made his name
bong like a bell through the dunes.

IMAGE: “Sand dunes at sunset, Atlantic City, New Jersey,” painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1885).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was just a little guy, three or four, I wandered off into a series of dunes cropping up from what was then an almost deserted Atlantic City beach – this was decades before the jingling of slot machines that so transformed that sleepy burg. My mother looked up on that faraway afternoon to see just an empty bucket and the washed out remains of a sand castle, and took off screaming my name across the sands and into the empty dunes, where – according to her narrative, since this is her recollection, not mine – she found me sitting quietly, safely, in complete solitude. She had, in fact, made my name “famous” as it rolled from the sides of the dunes into the little solitary valley I’d found for myself. My name had become the proverbial tree falling in the forest. It was famous only to an audience of sand. I have always thought that this was a pretty good metaphor for poetry itself – or at least for the act of its composition.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Sager, a recent winner of the William Matthews Poetry Prize, lives in Westminster, Maryland. His work has won publication through competitions judged by Billy Collins, Dick Allen, and William Stafford. Currently available through Amazon: Famous, winner of the 2010 Harriss Poetry Prize. Forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing, Ontario: TAU (poetry) and Hoby Blue Banks in Exactly 1,000 Words, More or Less (short stories). Forthcoming from BrickHouse Books, Baltimore: What Language Would Please Its Ear? and Swale (both poetry).