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a quiet fourth
Fran and I much alone this bright mild day
With the boys scattered, friends too, mostly, so
It's Sousa and Ives out on the patio
(And how subtly the Ives lets the attention stray);
Then work on a fl y rod, later get away
For a run at Hendry's, when the tide is low.
My last run down there was six weeks ago --
Summer crowds, and a new fee I won't pay.
But on the Fourth you want a crowd, I learn,
So down I go: beach fl at, sea calm, clear, warm.
In and beside it, in every tint, size, form,
People, with frisbee, radio, sunburn.
-- Drive back, see centered formally on a top stair
A beer, beneath a fl ag limp in the cooling air.
July 4, 1978
the other runner
Recalling, during a drought, a rainy day last year
Wind spread the rain across the glass, I hearing it
While reading Milton all day long, and looking up
From time to time, to wonder when it would stop,
And then forgetting rain, in the warm room where I sat.
Then arriving at the beach: yellow-brown breakers lit
From under a slowly lifting ledge of cloud -- the tops
Catching the level blaze, and darkness soon to drop,
And for my run the sand wave-beaten hard and fl at.
I ran alone, leaving some saunterers behind,
Beside a set of fresh footprints so far apart
I couldn't match them long, and slowed my pace, resigned;
Thinking of Milton, no, of every excellence,
How it exhilarates and humiliates the heart;
High waves nearing both sets of our footprints.