Michigan Vacation, 1967

 


"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong in the broken places." --Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms

"Nick's heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling." --Ernest Hemingway, Big Two-Hearted River part one.

_______

Michigan Vacation 1967


When I turned twelve, Michigan blessed me

with a love of lake water.

Rain on wood rails. Cold green waves. White sails.

Goodbye in the eyes of my father.


Solitude in a red paddle boat

watching the sea-weed swaying.

White sails. Cold green waves. Rain on wood rails.

A time cut short. We won't be staying.


That summer, Detroit and drift wood burned.

My paperback left behind.

Rain on wood rails. Cold green waves. White sails.

Something born or dying. Something fine.


When I turned twelve, Michigan blessed me

with a week that never leaves.

White sails. Cold green waves. Rain on wood rails.

How to love well and then, how to grieve.

________

Process note: My father had a particular fondness for Hemingway's Nick Adams stories. I can't read them without thinking of him.

For Dverse Poetics "One True Sentence." This form is called a ZaniLa Rhyme, invented by Laura Lamarca. 



Comments

  1. This crackles like a campfire, chills like Michigan's green waters, clean as north wind. Your refrain is a summer spell that brings the past out to play, and the freight of emotion never tips the boat too far, just weights it with what matters. Papa--both papas--surely would find this a perfect thing. You've really made this form shine.

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  2. Shay, what a great photo, the clouds look like MI! I like the deceptively airy surface of your poem that is so deep with the poignance of love and loss upon closer examination. I really enjoyed the first part of the documentary where it covers his childhood summers in northern MI. Excellent writing, Shay. Happy you visited dVerse and hope to see you at the pub again.
    Lisa

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  3. That's absolutely beautiful. The shifting waves of the third line are amazing -- they make us present in a world that can't hold on to what it needs.

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  4. This is one of your most lovely and poignant poems Shay. A moment in time that you have shared in such a way that we can feel the loss and see the beauty.

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  5. "How to love well, and then how to grieve." And the goodbye in the eyes of your father. The description in the repeated lines is so vivid. I especially love this poem. I really felt it.

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  6. Shay I remember the Detroit riot in 1967 .. I was 'heavy with child #4' my husband was in Vietnam, the world was falling apart. Or so I felt. The depth of this poem rivals the depth of any Michigan lake. Hemingway is a great catalyst.

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  7. So beautiful and emotional. <3 This hit me.

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  8. A brilliant poem, so beautifully composed and shot through with the poignancy of loss and childhood memory.

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  9. Shay--The line from the song, "I take back something worth remembering" made me realize why you chose this song. Wow. When you go back in your past, Shay, you go deep and you go powerful. The repeating lines... Again, wow.

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  10. Oh this is wonderful, I do love how that week in summer can be such a memory... sometimes I think summer is the most melancholic season... I also think how strong an emotion nostalgia really is.

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  11. this has a very warm feel to it, and i can certainly feel the love and the loss in your memory, very well written

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  12. excellent expression of a memory, with a heavy overlay,perhaps of longing.

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  13. I can feel the love and loss through your words. Michigan (and Wisconsin, for me) holds similar memories. I love how you used your sensory perceptions here: "Rain on wood rails. Cold green waves. White sails." I can smell the rain hitting the wood rails, and even the spray from the cold green waves! Brilliant imagery. <3

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  14. Oh, wow. Shay, this gave me serious chills—particularly in these places:

    “My paperback left behind.” (I know just how badly this hurts and how well it represents the other losses. Plus, oh my goodness! The double meaning! My paper back, drenched and destroyed by all that lake water and rain! So good. Wow. And when you lost the fragile spine, a much stronger one must have grown in its place.)

    “Something born or dying. Something fine.”

    “When I turned twelve, Michigan blessed me
    with a week that never leaves.”

    “How to love well and then, how to grieve.”

    What a powerful piece. How brave of you to write it.

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