The last bus back to Manhattan
lumbers along a quiet, car-parked,
tree-lined street in Throgs Neck.
The Bronx beyond the IRT,
the old beachfront so condo cluttered
you can’t see the lights
of City Island twinkling across the bay.
The water is cold and dark tonight,
the tide full in, the beach drowned,
empty shells of horseshoe crabs
encrust the condo foundations
like fossil trilobites.
Waited an hour at the bus stop,
my hands aching from the cold,
and not much relief on this bus.
I keep my gloves and hat on,
look out the window,
the cold radiating off the glass
chills my nose as I stare at my own
reflection: the lines on that face sadden me.
I refocus my eyes, shoo the ghost away;
the brakes shush, the bus rounds
the corner onto Wilcox,
where all the little beach clubs
used to be, Golden’s big sign
Golden beach club.
Golden haired bikini girls
dancing barefoot in the sand,
three boys stride past,
bodies lean and taut,
they glide into the water
without a break in stride,
without a word to each other,
without so much as a glance at the girls.
They swim out beyond the
raft crowded with young bodies,
beyond the bobbing boats and buoys,
their strokes strong,
three perfect parallel
wakes crossing the bay,
vanishing to a single point
out toward City Island.
You think you understand them,
but the dead bequeath only their mysteries,
leave legacies of love and loss
that blind and drive you
in ways you never understand.
So you come home
once a week, once a month, once a year,
it doesn’t matter.
Your motives are your own.
The past will ebb away
no matter what you do, or say, or think,
vanishing to a point beyond memory
and then gone.
Eugene A. Melino