Summer Day Trip

I wrote this poem as an undergrad.  When I was a kid we used to make a yearly church trip to Sunken Meadow beach in Long Island.  We used to look forward to it all summer.

SUMMER DAY TRIP

Anticipation
for the next day to begin,
for the morning to break.
The hum of the floor fan,
with the swish of the cars outside
make the sheets offer to much warmth in this summer day,
but they are my protection.

Anticipation
so
I barely get any sleep.
I see the sky get clear
as the sun begins to rise
and mom wakes us up.
It's time to get ready, eat breakfast, pack up our things
and begin our walk to church.

The warm air smells sweet
mixed with the smell of fried chicken
that I carry in the grocery bag.
My new jelly sandals squish on the pavement.
Brother complains about the weight of the thermos,
its ice clatters against the plastic.

There's the bus!
Large in the narrow street.
I don't remember the ride.
Lost sleep is found.
Bright sunshine warms us,
and the hymns are my lullaby.
The patter of the rain--barely audible.

Picnic is set half a mile from the beach,
and there is no rain here
like the weatherman said.

Late afternoon, after hours of playing
I sit on the wooden bench
and eat my fried chicken sandwich.

The baptism is now!
Someone calls.

They all rush to the shore
to see the purified.

People are cleansed
just like John baptized Jesus.

Afterwards we eat dinner
and celebrate.

The new souls.

We go home.

Late afternoon sunshine and
the sun is dipping behind buildings.
We walk home.
My jelly sandals squish with water.
Brother swings the empty thermos
while I carry nothing.

I get home and shower
and lie in front of the TV.

CHiPs is on.
Mom sits besides me
and strokes my freshly washed hair.
I feel the ocean in my chest--
rising and falling waves,
rising and falling.
The yellow sunshine fills the living room
but it's almost gone.
As Lavern and Shirley
sing their song
I fall asleep.


--Joanna Milanes
December 28, 1996