drifting in pictures by Walter Bjorkman

there I stand brave and tall
chest flooded with pride
holding the backend of a raft
Bobby Lange, I recall holding the otherside
on this buttered toast of beach for the public
in his poor man’s heaven, my Dad called it

He would finally arrive
with candied treats melted and warped
from his two-hour drive – late fridays
we heard him come before he did
— but I have told this story
too many times for me before

now this one on the last blanket
that last summer day I didn’t know
would hold no more, not with my Father beside
on the same day we built that raft to get out to the rock
playing dive-bomber one-hunded yards from the shore

the runt of the pack, I was the first u-boat
preparing to be attacked –
jump from one end and traverse underwater
the twenty-four foot long edge to survive
children’s depth-charger feet, unknowing
that by next summer someone would die,
not I

three years later a visitor in the bungalow
He built what was our lifetime ago
– once me in a big old tin bucket
having my first swim at two (and a half)
while my Father sawed and hammered and smiled

now that heaven not ours but a cousin’s
two fast weeks for me, not a lifetime in three months
the raft is found smashed flat against the fifty foot sand cliff
we would slide or tumble in a ball to get down
a dead-grey driftwooded dry raft, I now eleven and a half

lift it up to bring to the ebbing tide


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12 responses to “drifting in pictures by Walter Bjorkman

  1. Missy

    Walt, you did it again! *clapping*

  2. Randal Houle

    Bravo. Very nice form and nicely told story.

  3. Catherine Davis

    How do you tell so much story in so few words? That lifetime, life snatched then savored again. Bitter-sweet. Oh! “that last summer day I didn’t know
    would hold no more” – cruel unexpected last-ness, and heaven smashed by proxy.

  4. Just wonderful, Walter! Fell in love at this: “buttered-toast of beach”

  5. Len

    i agree with everyone. what a fully realized and generous piece. you really packed a lot in and with a punch to the face.

  6. Very nostalgic and dreamy.

  7. So much in such a condensed format, and the use of your exalted language and word choices. I read this over and over. And went back again.

  8. Walter

    Thanks guys! I find that the more personal the subject matter I write, the less words I need to express what I want to say. That is when the ‘so much in so few’ that we strive for seems to be more often attained. At the beginning it wasn’t so – detached I was much clearer, my internals were a jumbled mess. I imagine all writers use writing to develop a clarity of thought and resolution to their inner workings, and it has been so with me, which then propels the writing to be even tighter. The act and the result of the act bolster each other. And I have less demons to chase down, to boot.
    Appreciate the readings when you all finally make it to the basement to read your squint-eyed hosts.

  9. buttered toast of a beach is so apt and a lovely reference – the nautical nature of this piece has great appeal and balance

  10. This is so lovely, Walter. Sweet and yearning and perfect. Peace…

  11. Pingback: Week #34 – Floating away | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  12. Kim Hutchinson

    A touching and beautifully rendered memory. Lovely.

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