Poetry and Photography by Sarah E. Murphy/Copyright 2002
I loved venturing up the boardwalk to Under the Sun
sandy bare feet slapping against hot planks
to fill brown paper bags with fireballs and bulls’ eyes.
I’d always stop and peer in the windows
wanting to know if it matched my mind’s eye
women in pastel bikinis perched on barstools like exotic birds
stirring colorful concoctions with tiny umbrellas.
Men huddled over amber-colored pint glasses
as rings of smoke wafted above their heads.
But this was the 70s and 80s
in the days of the Brothers 4 and the Oak Crest Inn
when the Heights was like Daytona
and the commotion in the streets at night became
my summer lullaby.
Car doors slamming
the offensive blur of a radio dial
inebriated voices echoing across the ballpark
coaxing me to sleep.
Two decades later
I would come to know it from the inside
where singles came together
for the proverbial nightcap
and adversaries sometimes came to blows.
By midnight you could barely move
so conversations were finished on the deck
weaving through the crowd
a sea of tank tops and flip flops
jean shorts and baseball caps.
Escaping the smell of stale cigarettes and spilled beer
for the soothing embrace of salty summer air.
Then the lights would suddenly come up
the music abruptly stopping
a brief silence punctuated by boisterous refusal.
down that same boardwalk of my youth
while bouncers and summer cops
herded us like bar-hopping cattle.
and strangers who met moments before
would cling to each other
as searches began for missing keys
and friends lost in the crowd
while parked cruisers offered a not-so-subtle reminder to
“Keep things moving…”
How naive we were
to think those nights would never end
along with lazy Sundays
nursing a hangover
on the Heights Beach
coaxed in and out consciousness by the roar of the ocean
and cover tunes wafting down from the deck
with the promising scent of fried clams.
Our beloved summer castle
washed away by an unexpected wave.
Poetry and Photography by Sarah E. Murphy /Copyright 2002