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It’s good, at times, to have grown old, though not

to ‘wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled’

but to be allowed to sit upon a fold up

picnic chair beneath a beach umbrella

and read – something, as a stilted youth,

I would have paid for if I’d had the dosh.


Now, between paragraphs, I watch, across

a quarter of a mile of sand, the family

paddle and swim. Suddenly, behind me,

the Christian Beach Team strikes up,

calling boys and girls and dads and mums

for an Adam and Eve tug o’war –

accompanied by much loud hailer cheer

and jovial misogyny – and then

a brief sermon followed by a hymn – ‘Floods

of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,

Since Jesus came into my heart!’ – and I

begin to hear the waves’ far siren song

then note the family is returning

from the water’s edge as quickly as they can

and fear the little one has cut her toe

on a razor shell or been stung by

a lion’s mane jellyfish. But, no,

they have seen a dolphin – that Christian

symbol of amity and charity –

arching and diving, tearing through the waves,

finally heading out into the bay.

Now they’ve brought the good news to Grandpa

they go back, the little one running.


The Beach Team begins again – ‘Hear us, O Lord…’

– but I can only hear ‘mermaids singing,

each to each’ and can only imagine

the dolphin, that paragon, that non pareil

of the air, of the sea.




© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • John Huddart
    July 23, 2014

    A most beguiling poem – and though the persona of the grandpa is completely convincing, the mask hides a never fading perceptiveness! I like the Prospero-like indulgence to the Christian group, whose happy clappy goodness adds to and subtly endorses the contentedness of the poem. Once you would have raged at them!

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