Labor Day: Brighton Beach

By NATHAN MCCLAIN

How lovely, at last, to have nothing to do but sit, shirtless, in my collapsible chair, reading Gerald Stern’s American Sonnets, and lovely to sit, beer in my lap, just a little tipsy, lovely, too, to ignore beauty, or desire, or whatever, the young woman unfolding her nylon tent, smacking each stake into the sand with her sandal’s heel, slipping discreetly into her swim suit, though I could watch the plane zip past, tugging a banner for Wicked, which there was still time to see if you wanted, or the sailboat glide slowly by, and it was a good day for sailing, a good day, so I didn’t have to think about sorrow or loss, though, let’s face it, I did, how not to—the old man missing a left leg—not how it happened, or when—but if it gets easier, you know, living with it, crutch snug under each armpit, and Jill had been gone a long time to warm her goat curry, then further out, a jet ski, like a straight razor, slits the water’s surface, Carmen already asleep under a sun hat.

[Purchase Issue 18 here.]

 

Nathan McClain is the author of Scale, a recipient of fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Frost Place, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. His poetry and prose have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Poem-a-Day, The Baffler, upstreet, and West Branch Wired. He teaches at Hampshire College.

Labor Day: Brighton Beach

Related Posts

july 2020 poetry feature

July 2020 Poetry Feature: Steven Leyva and Elizabeth Scanlon

STEVEN LEYVA
Get down to the smallest birthright / I cannot claim: say beignets / and doesn’t the stutter of hot oil start / to sizzle the small plates of memory? / Faces powdered with sugar, no thought / to whose ancestors cut which cane, sing / a hymn of “mmm, mmm, mmm.”

Illustration of dolphin

July 2020 Poetry Feature: Loren Goodman

LOREN GOODMAN
In these last hours / Of the Passover Seder / It is said by the higher / Chasidic Scholars that time / Loses its essence and that / We are at least once, with / The help of memory (at this / Time “even the future can be / Remembered”) able to defeat / It. Something to do / With the wine.

Skyline cropped

Goddamn

MORIEL ROTHMAN-ZECHER
The chunk of the ball / On the cracked blacktop / And our torsos so covered / In sweat nearby the sea / Swells and the smell seeps / Into our hair and the air / Turns into night all around us / And the pebbles of the ball / Still tickle our palms as smoke / Trickles into our lungs...