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Pool Girl, West Bathhouse, Jones Beach State Park, 1961

Today’s poem is “Pool Girl, West Bathouse, Jones Beach State Park, 1961” by Kathleen Sullivan. She is a psychotherapist; for over fifty years, she has helped people rewrite the stories of their lives. She began writing in her 60s because she feared her work had silenced her own voice. She then got an MFA at the Stonecoast Writers Program at the University of Southern Maine to make up for lost time. 

She writes, “A poem by Bruce Spang about his mother at 16 and set in a similar place inspired this poem. I wanted to see if I could find traces of that young, sensuous, exuberant girl I once was.” 

Pool Girl, 
West Bathhouse, 
Jones Beach State Park, 1961
by Kathleen Sullivan

     Do you remember me
sitting there cool
under the green-striped awning,
full-lipped, lush
with bloom?

     Sixteen and
fresh as summer dawn
over the warm saltmarshes,
swallows rising.
That was me beside
the pair of high diving boards,
the ivy climbing
the stone walls of the bathhouse. 

     I didn’t know the beach
chairs would fade so soon,
they’d drain the saltmarshes,
build subdivisions. 

     Maybe you
paid 50 cents, got your hand stamped
with invisible ink
stood in my line
slid your hand inside the dark black box
watched me find
the green fluorescent blossom
only I could see. 

     You smiled,
thought I was pretty.
     Maybe I
wondered if your kisses
taste like salt and wild cherry.

     Do you remember the long
tended rows of unblemished
white tea roses,
we passed on our rush
towards the ocean
with its ceaseless rolling,
thump of wave as it hit wet sand,
the soft shushing sound
as it ran back into the sea?

     Maybe that night on the beach,
sand in our mouths, skin
burning, we kissed. 

     Do you remember that roiling blue,
those rows of white roses,
my red lips? 

     Do you remember me?
Is it only I who can see
our green fluorescent blossoms
still blooming into the darkness? 

Poem copyright 2018 © Kathleen Sullivan.