"A Farewell to Summer" - Bob Ambrose

A memory of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., August 3, 2002 Athens, Georgia
January 13, 2011

One on each side, my brothers
hoist the folding beach chair
and carry with care
this now frail woman
        across the access
to the edge of the sea
to soak her toes in a tidal caress
to feel the roar and the silence
        to take that one last look
at the wide spaces she wandered
with childhood dreams
her own, her children’s
        her children’s children’s
in those magical margins
where she honed her vocation
spinning lifelines of happiness
to secure young souls
        within her spell
of sunny summer wonder.

Humble beach grasses bend
in the prevailing wind
as they anchor loose sands
to foundations of impermanence
that shift imperceptibly
        through human lives
and even endless summers
must yield their time
to make way for new beginnings.

The wind blows which way it will
we do not know where
or why, and so let go only
        because we must
and claim that bitter prize - 
our due share of reluctant wisdom.
Her short hair tangles today
in a warm ocean breeze
that mixes sand and salt
and the sweet smell of sunblock.
        She sheds no tears
but sets her countenance
to the infinite horizon
with weary resolve
to honor what was, what
        must be again
and to go her way into autumn
with the grace of summer
clutching lightly to the backs
of tiny boys grown tall
in the sunshine of her life.

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