Epistemology of a Photograph
A small boy sprints into foam on Galway Bay.
A splash leaps from his planted foot;
his heel settles toward Earth’s mantle;
wet sand worms upward through his toes.
His leading leg is stilled above a swell,
toes curled and poised, shortly to try
the easy surf in a paroxysm of play.
His reflection stains the thin retreating sea.
His arms remain straight and stiff, and his hands
tightly fisted as if to hold for now anyway
the water-addled kid-joy of running.
One arm points back toward boulders, taupe sand,
maybe sisters, I cannot say.
His eyes are down, but something is beyond.
I think he slips an outward look, glimpses Granny.
Next, swells approach a shore not seen. Spray,
a still pool, withdrawing froth. A jetty tapers
and holds these well enunciated waves away
from foreshortened waters, distant houses,
clouds riding hills as grey and blue as the bay.
Outside the frame Granny watches, smiles praise,
surely thinking of how he is right now.
The sea laps at her knees and, leaning toward the boy,
her eyes may let memory float to when she too leapt
into waters too wide for imagination
or when his father frolicked within
her ken in frigid waves, happy and safe.
Even farther out, almost where the sea is wild
and near to buoys that mark…something
three old men swim across the bay, two miles
of reach and pull, challenge and conquest,
from promontory to promontory.
Their white heads switch and bob, profiled
against the sky. Like Granny
they must be barrel-bellied. Unlike Granny
they’re implicated by the freely playing child
not at all.
H. G. Rogers
This poem was presented and read in 2020 at the Poetry Circle of the Yeats Center in Sligo, Ireland.
H. G. Rogers earned a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Texas–Austin and, as to be expected, served a full military career. He later became a corporate trainer, a leadership consultant, and a financial advisor. He is currently seeking representation for a literary novel. He lives in Northwest Arkansas.
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