Reading Rita Dove’s Boccaccio: The Plague Years

Each day, each night, upon the southern island that

reaches out to the Gulf of Mexico,

the clapboard beach houses raise their tunes

of flying fish, slapping hard upon the water’s edge.

I was two, perhaps, younger. My memory slips

into a time of a golden astonishment, white sand that stings

as a round, translucent ball of jelly,

with tentacles created from a barbed wire.

                                                                                                Padre Island, 1956.

Time travels forward.

Teen worries, of fate, and

the destiny of a late bloomer,

where hearts cry all day long.

                                                                                                Love is Blue and To Sir, with Love.

The day just beginning.

Walking to school, I saw her, staring.

Why me? at sixteen, I think

did she bare truth through a lost generation

of mini-skirts, and untied blouses?

A woman of age.

                                                                                                Baby Blue Marine.

Why, this abattoir of carnality leading

young boys to their spiritual death?

I mean, when should one know?

Forty years plus, as the feast continues,

I am drawn, and withdrawn, into the subtleties

of these feministic wiles.

                                                                                                I am no possession.

This is not love, no longing for Christ

even present. Why this wound? A suicide of the soul.

A warped mind, not even developed

At sixteen, though the assailants are running free

In this world of carnal adversity.

                                                                        Man and Woman, He Created Them:

                                                                        A Theology of the Body. 2006.

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