233 miles, 4 hours & 5 minutes, & we're here,
just in time for lunch. If I eat the ham & American
cheese sandwich with mustard on one slice of bread
in the baggy labeled with my name, that's it —
We're not walking the boardwalk. Don't ask for nothing else.
When the towels are spread out, already half-covered
with sand, I take small bites of the sandwich, narrow
my eyes, peer at the ocean — it's gray, not blue
like the commercials for beach vacations on TV.
This is what Papa calls a rip-off.
I walk to the water, let the waves lick my feet,
look for jellyfish, crabs, seashells—fragments
of Atlantic life touch my toes, but there's nothing
whole to take home with me. I stand for a while,
hands on my sacrum, hair blowing West, watching.
I turn to walk back to my towel. First, I must wade
through tanned bodies of all shapes & sizes, the seagulls
dodging feet, the half-standing sand castles. At our spot,
everything is being folded & packed. Papa stands, hands
shielding his eyes from the sun as he searches for the best way
to exit to the parking lot. It's his first time
seeing the ocean, sitting on the edge of land.
We were never going to stay the night.
Yes, we would be home in time for dinner.
Papa only does all that he can handle.
— Teresa Schartel Narey
Teresa Schartel Narey's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Extract(s), wicked alice, No Tokens, elimae, and Apeiron Review, among others.In 2014, she will read her poetry at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association national conference.She has an MFA from Chatham University and lives in Swissvale. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.