Annapolis        

 
The town is there,

I must suppose -

Two circles,

With a square

Between.

And Main Street goes

Down to the creek

As it has always done.

Saint Mary’s, where

I served

So many masses.

 

I must seek

The green

Abiding scene -

The tall

Alfalfa grasses

Beyond the school.

The cherry-trees

I climbed with Paul.

The putt-putt from

An outboard engine.

I still can feel

Those marbles, cool

Galaxies

I used to come

Home with, in

My pockets.

The roses grew

Around the pool

Where Robin barked

Or watched

The gold-fish.

How many tickets

Bought -

The Circle

And Republic.

I knew

All the movies.

 

The soft-shell crabs

I hoped to catch,

While Mother parked

The pale green Cord

And walked

Down to the edge

And talked

To me

Across the twilit waters:

‘You must come in.

It’s getting late.’

Have I ignored

Less happy matters?

It is because

I like to see

Her as she used to wait

At nightfall

Just outside

Our house

And pause

And laugh a little

When I tried

To light the way

With lightning-bugs

Imprisoned in a bottle.

These memories rouse

The past.

The love

She gave me kept

The cold world off

Until much later.

The ways I had

To make her smile:

‘Mother, you can't be sad.’

‘Then tell me something funny.’

The ginger-ale

We used to drink:

The lime and lithia water.

Sometimes she’d take the car

And drive me in to have

A sarsaparilla soda

At Gilbert’s

Or an ice-cream at

Wiegard’s ice-cream parlour.

The heat

In Duke of Gloucester Street.

The awnings out

On Maryland Avenue.

Oh, all the books

I took

To read

From the Naval Academy library.

So cool and vast.

I still can see

The Dress-Parades,

The cannons from

The War of 1812.

The Star-boats on the Severn.

The midshipmen go past

Tecompsky’s statue,

As I come

Back from swimming.

The horse-chestnuts

Must be falling still

In Lovers’ Lane

Upon the round white gravel,

The band

Be playing

The Stars and Stripes Forever

And my father,

In summer uniform

Of white and gold,

Is saying:

‘Son. be careful!’

Then he takes

Me to the boxing

Or the football

Game.

And nothing now

Can ever be the same

As what it was.

Two minutes left to play.

The stands are singing

Anchors Aweigh!

I hear

Them cheer

For Navy.

 

It must all

Be there

Still.

I suppose:

The town.

Our Scotty dog.

The roses.

My mother

And my father…

But they are dead.

And I,

Who loved them both,

Am somewhere else.

And many years away.