The Beach

Beck stepped onto the sand. His sneakers sank a bit but not much. He looked out at the sea and thought about all the men who had died on beaches. His father at Normandy. His first wife’s father at Dunkirk. And his uncle storming the island of Iwo Jima. Tears came to his eyes. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to face an enemy, spewing bullets down on him as he hurried up a beach.

Three times he’d been married. Three times marriage had failed for him. Why? He always wondered. Who knew? As he stood on the beach, he gazed out at the sea. Men used to go to sea to prove their manhood and see foreign shores and meet girls in sarongs. He’d never been more than one hundred miles from the house where he was born. He didn’t have an adventuring soul, his wives accused. It wasn’t that.

His feet were planted in the earth where he’d been born. He’d seen pictures of other places. None had the beauty of his home. The green grass in spring. The summer breezes. The autumn leaves. The winter snows. And God, the setting for the farm was absolutely gorgeous in the fall when the harvests came in. It brought tears to the seventy-seven-year-old man.

Soon all that would be over. Beck had cancer and his days were numbered. He hadn’t told his children yet. He’d have to do it soon. He came to this beach to put his life in perspective.

He stripped down to his shorts and ran toward the water. It hit him in the face hard. It felt good. It felt so good.

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Derek Walcott, Poet

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the poet, Derek Walcott:

Derek Walcott on writing and painting.

Oh, what a beautiful language we have, this English. We strip it and we tear it down, we ignore it and abuse it and lose a bit of it along the way. It not only survives. It rises like a phoenix and soars. Especially when it is in the hands of a poet. William Shakespeare was that kind of poet, and Seamus Heaney too. So was Derek Walcott.

Derek Walcott was an island man, so he gave us islands and the sea. He showed us that poetry could rise out of the least of places. That it was possible for a black man from a very small place could become a great poet. And he did it with this magnificent language of ours.