Lifesavers, All

Aug 28, 2019

To the Editor:

While the weather and waves were perfect during a recent week on LBI, a couple of mornings I was reminded of a very stormy scene instead.

The 1884 oil painting “The Life Line,” one of Winslow Homer’s masterpieces on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, certainly captures the risks undertaken by the young men and women I saw training as lifeguards.

Inspirational? Well, you could say that: I already feel safer for the next 20 years. The following is a poem I wrote.

Dave Blanchard

Phoenixville, Pa.

On the Life Line

(To emergency personnel)

This is the easy part, what came before

With so much shed, what other hell but war?

As much my youth! another, undeclared

Nor blow and worse than these was ever spared ...

And we embrace! this but the angry sea –

Our harnesses, the joinery should do …

Not that you ask, a-soak and sleeping, too!

Though just as well, the wreck you leave behind

Uncertain platform for our rendezvous ...

Our warm embrace, if, yes, a little cold ...

A little, yes –

Another, now and hold!

Again! Now breathe, and keeping breath in mind

Recall the way, no use in going back ...

Jones, he who tried, I think, to no avail …

Some joke, his punchline caught up in the gale –

Pretend there is some artist keeping track

That keeps our sagging line a little taut

Lest precious hours of his own for naught!

Who deems each moment here within these waves

A lifetime of our own – again – and saves –

If now your scarf all wrapped, and naturally!

Around my face— saves, for posterity

I cannot see! as though he somehow knew

What happy fate, beyond this silken view,

Again – beyond this unrelenting sea,

Awaits the simple likes of me, and you.


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