Private Beach

Jane Kenyon

 
It is always the dispossessed—
someone driving a huge rusted Dodge   
that’s burning oil, and must cost   
twenty-five dollars to fill.
Today before seven I saw, through
the morning fog, his car leave the road,   
turning into the field. It must be
his day off, I thought, or he’s out
of work and drinking, or getting stoned.   
Or maybe as much as anything
he wanted to see
where the lane through the hay goes.
It goes to the bluff overlooking   
the lake, where we’ve cleared   
brush, swept the slippery oak
leaves from the path, and tried to destroy   
the poison ivy that runs
over the scrubby, sandy knolls.
Sometimes in the evening I’ll hear   
gunshots or firecrackers. Later a car   
needing a new muffler backs out
to the road, headlights withdrawing   
from the lowest branches of the pines.
Next day I find beer cans, crushed;   
sometimes a few fish too small   
to bother cleaning and left
on the moss to die; or the leaking   
latex trace of outdoor love....
Once I found the canvas sling chairs   
broken up and burned.
Whoever laid the fire gathered stones   
to contain it, like a boy pursuing
a merit badge, who has a dream of work,   
and proper reward for work.
 
Jane Kenyon, "Private Beach" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.

Poems by This Author

Afternoon at MacDowell by Jane Kenyon
On a windy summer day the well-dressed
Alone for a Week by Jane Kenyon
I washed a load of clothes
At the Public Market Museum: Charleston, South Carolina by Jane Kenyon
A volunteer, a Daughter of the Confederacy,
Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks by Jane Kenyon
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
Christmas Away from Home by Jane Kenyon
Her sickness brought me to Connecticut
Dutch Interiors by Jane Kenyon
Christ has been done to death
Happiness by Jane Kenyon
There’s just no accounting for happiness
Having it Out with Melancholy by Jane Kenyon
When I was born, you waited
Heavy Summer Rain by Jane Kenyon
The grasses in the field have toppled
Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon
Let the light of late afternoon
Man Eating by Jane Kenyon
The man at the table across from mine
Mosaic of the Nativity: Serbia, Winter, 1993 by Jane Kenyon
On the domed ceiling God
Notes from the Other Side by Jane Kenyon
I divested myself of despair
Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
I got out of bed
Portrait of a Figure Near Water by Jane Kenyon
Rebuked, she turned and ran
Taking Down the Tree by Jane Kenyon
The Suitor by Jane Kenyon
We lie back to back. Curtains
Thinking of Madame Bovary by Jane Kenyon
The first hot April day the granite step
Three Songs at the End of Summer by Jane Kenyon
A second crop of hay lies cut
Twilight: After Haying by Jane Kenyon
Yes, long shadows go out
What Came to Me by Jane Kenyon
I took the last


Further Reading

Poems about Objects
Tender Buttons [Objects]
by Gertrude Stein
A blurry photograph
by Martha Ronk
Amethyst Beads
by Eavan Boland
Before You Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Blue Hanuman
by Joan Larkin
Compendium of Lost Objects
by Nicole Cooley
No mode of excitement is absolutely colorless
by Mónica de la Torre
Orkney Interior
by Ian Hamilton Finlay
Postcards
by E. Ethelbert Miller
The Hammers
by Jericho Brown
The Things
by Donald Hall
What the Angels Left
by Marie Howe
White Box (notes)
by Laura Mullen
Woman in Front of Poster of Herself
by Alice Notley