The Docks of Long Branch, Gardening with Words, Each Day, Bloomin 2013
THE DOCKS OF LONG BRANCH
The docks’ odor mixed with
strong sunshine dried out wood.
The heavy drift of fish smell bears down.
Dying fish on the dried refuse
changes the beach odor,
unpleasant to the beach, the wet beach,
leaving me with wet smells all around me.
GARDENING WITH WORDS
Like seeds, I’d plant them in the earth
and watch as they grow
from little plants.
I water them,
watch their motion in the wind.
At 92, each day is its own commander.
Yet still in charge of my own body,
the things I experience
are not limited to being 92.
The sunsets in the west
are the experiences of the total day—
from the merging colors of the sunrise
and the mixed forms of the clouds
through the changing person of myself.
So the incredible flavors of the western
sunset reflect to me my personal
experiences of the commander’s
struggles with his full day.
During my senior year in college, World War II erupted just as we all were taking final exams. It felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under us. Our hopes and ambitions, the lives we had anticipated leading, were placed on hold.
Somehow or other, we all managed to graduate that summer, June 4th, 1942. But the knowledge that many of my classmates would soon be shipped off to fight in every branch of the armed services (the Air Force being the most prestigious at the time) was sobering.
At the time, I was dating a classmate named Jim Buckley who, like all the other young men, enlisted or got drafted. We lost track of each other.
After the war, we ended up marrying different people and raising our own families. It wasn’t until almost half a century later—after I had become a widow and he a widower living in New Jersey—did we cross paths again.
Jim, at that point, had become mayor of Fair Haven. A girlfriend of mine asked me one day, “Did you ever go to school with a young man named Jim Buckley?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I work for him now,” she said. “Would you mind if he called you?”
“Not at all!” I exclaimed.
And the rest is history. We were finally reunited, fell in love, and married. Together with my four children and his five, we become one big, happy family.
by Helen (Jim’s wife)
Jim autographing his memoirs for Art Sparks, Executive Director @ Seabrook Village