In Ball’s Market after surfing till noon, We stand in wet trunks, shivering, As icing dissolves off our sweet rolls Inside the heat-blued counter oven, When they appear on his portable TV, Riding a float of chiffon as frothy As the peeling curl of a wave. The parade m. c. talks up their hits And their new houses outside of Detroit, And old Ball clicks his tongue. Gloved up to their elbows, their hands raised Toward us palm out, they sing, “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and don’t stop, But slip into the lower foreground. Every day of a summer can turn, From one moment, into a single day. I saw Diana Ross in her first film Play a brief scene by the Pacific— And that was the summer it brought back. Mornings we paddled out, the waves Would be little more than embellishments— Lathework and spun glass, Gray-green with cold, but flawless. When the sun burned through the light fog, They would warm and swell, Wind-scaled and ragged, And radios up and down the beach Would burst on with her voice. She must remember that summer Somewhat differently. And so must the two Who sang with her in long matching gowns, Standing a step back on her left and right, As the camera tracked them Into our eyes in Ball’s Market. But what could we know, tanned white boys, Wiping sugar and salt from our mouths, And leaning forward to feel their song? Not much, except to feel it Ravel us up like a wave In the silk of white water, Simply, sweetly, repeatedly, And just as quickly let go. We didn’t stop either, which is how We vanished, too, parting like spray— Ball’s Market, my friends and I. Dredgers ruined the waves, Those continuous dawn perfections, And Ball sold high to the high rises Cresting over them. His flight out of L.A., Heading for Vegas, would have banked Above the wavering lines of surf. He may have seen them. I have, Leaving again for points north and east, Glancing down as the plane turns. From that height they still look frail and frozen, Full of simple sweetness and repetition.
From Far and Away, published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1985. Copyright © 1985 by Mark Jarman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.