Twenty Minutes at Horseneck Beach, Massachusetts
by Brenda Davis Harsham

My daughter chants
Beach, beach, beach!
in her wobbling soprano.
Bluebell skies,
wavy-air heat, a
parking lot half-eaten
by sand dunes.
Stiff winds smell
We add our coconut
sunscreen scent.
My husband and I unload
one picnic blanket,
two beach chairs,
three pails,
four shovels,
one cooler,
one giant towel tote,
two beach umbrellas,
one beach cart,
one song-girl
and two grumbling boys,
looking slightly green
from wrong turns and
illegal U-turns when our
GPS failed us.
We push, shove, pull and carry
our gear past cars
pumping Brazilian rhythms
and weaving a
welter of languages,
Spanish, Hindi, Portugese,
French, American English,
Australian English, German,
Korean and your-guess.
15 minutes of donkey labor
over feet-sinking soft sand,
we reach the solid threshold
of packed damp sand.
Waves tease and retreat.
My daughter sinks her shovel
and beams as if she’s
circled the sun and
buzzed the moon.
Her brothers build
towers and dig moats.
Black clouds mass,
roil and spill toward us.
Lightning spits. Thunder rolls.
The beach closes.
We haul, lug, trip over,
drag and torture
our gear back to the
parking lot.
Twenty minutes
at Horseneck Beach that
they don’t remember.
But I do.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Photo of my daughter taken July 2012 at Horseneck Beach, Massachusetts.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is the shortest trip to the beach I ever took, but maybe because of that, it always unfolds in my mind like a poem. When I wrote it, I had to first use prose and then reduce it to poetry by boiling off the staid, boring and commonplace phrases.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brenda Davis Harsham lives in New England. She’s been a McDonald’s cashier, graphic artist, editor, lawyer, and writing teacher. At the day’s beginning and end, she’s a poet. When she isn’t writing, she snaps photographs, makes art, invents recipes, and reads to her kids. Her poetry and prose have been published in on-line literary journals.