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Searching 4 Miss America
By Mark M Lichterman   

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Searching 4 Miss America

 

Union Pier, Michigan

August 3, 1949

10:45 am

 

With the orange, five man, war surplus

life-raft perched atop their heads,

looking much as a four legged caterpillar,

two boys made their way across the old road,

turned right and went forty yards,

“Ouch!”

stepping on unseen rocks, stones,

and occasion bottle caps,

“Ow!”

to the path leading down to the beach.

“Ow, Jeeze!”

Fighting gravity, hanging onto the line that

ran around the circumference of the raft,

“Ouch!”

as sharp-leafed weeds cut at their feet and legs.

“Aie!”

Running across scorching sand

“Ow!”

as the wind tugged at the top-heavy,

inflatable raft.

“Ahh!”

Splashing into the cool, lapping water, the raft,

with its two metal oars held snugly beneath

the compartmental, middle air-filled seat,

was lifted off their heads in unison and flipped,

landing right side up into the water of Lake Michigan.

 

Sitting canoe style,

one boy on either side

with their outboard legs

dangling in water no deeper

than needed to clear the oars

so the boys might find what they were

hungrily searching for…

 

What else?

Girls!

 

Going south the day before,

the boys had gone ashore

five times

and the girls had been either

too young,

too old,

or not pretty enough.

But the scene changed constantly

and just because the girls of their dreams

were not there on the outgoing trip

it didn’t mean they wouldn’t be on the beach

when they rowed back in a few hours.

So why tie yourself down with anything

less than you really want?

 

Which was?

What else but a big busted,

long-legged

Miss Jewish America of 1949…

or any reasonably attractive girls

that would consider talking to them.

 

On this day,

the third day of their combined family’s vacation,

the fifteen year old boys planned to explore north,

towards the unknown.

 

His nose red and peeling,

wearing a blue, boxer-style bathing suit,

one boy’s shoulders and back were burnt

from the two previous days of continuous,

unaccustomed sunshine on his light

complexioned skin.

 

The other boy wore a yellow,

brief-type bathing suit that

showed in deep contrast to his

already well-tanned body.

 

Pulling the raft ashore,

the boys swam a few

minutes to cool off,

then dragged the raft

back into the water

and jumped aboard.

 

Straddling the tubular semi-hard

rubberized canvas,

the light skinned boy sat on the starboard side

and the dark skinned boy on the port side.

Their outboard legs dangled in the water,

while their inboard legs, stretched forward,

rested on the raft.

 

At this time of day the sun was behind them,

shining pleasantly on their backs.

 

Paddling leisurely, the boys enjoyed the

heat of the sun and the gentle bobbing

motion of the raft.

 

The dark skinned boy felt the heat on his back

and the right side of his face.

He looked at the dark-brown skin of his thigh,

still glistening with water,

and at his stomach,

darker where the wet flesh creased horizontally

along either side of his navel,

and at his upper arms:

As the oar dipped in the water and was drawn back

his biceps swelled and contracted with each pull and release.

 

The water is a dusky, greenish-blue.

The sand at water’s edge, dark brown,

and higher,

away from the lapping water,

a light, golden beige.

The shrubbery on the embankment is brilliant green.

The sky, radiant blue,

and the clouds as white and feathery as tufts of pure white cotton.

 

The ores in the hands of the two boys cut through the water as though moving by their own volition.

 

Breathing through their nostrils,

the boys sensed the aroma

of sand,

of water,

of the green growth.

 

The gentle onshore breeze skimmed warm water

from the surface of the lake bringing it inshore,

bringing warm water to them, to the boys.

 

Mesmerized by the all-enveloping beauty,

the totality of what the dark skinned boy

saw, felt and sensed seemed too beautiful to be real

and the boy felt as though he were within a surrealistic dream.

 

Parting his lips,

breathing through his mouth,

the boy drew the sun-warmed

sea-cooled air deeply into his lungs.

 

He felt the hot sun and tepid water.

He saw the sky, clouds, sand and shrubbery.

He sensed the sweet odors of life about him and felt…?

What?

Closing his eyes,

the motion of the raft tranquilized him.

The tepid water caressed him.

The soft air kissed him, and…

 

The boy had no way of knowing,

but at that very moment…

That very moment was the pinnacle,

and at no time in his life

would he feel what he felt

as strongly as at that exact time.

 

He knew nothing of death; those he loved were alive.

He knew nothing of the pain of lost love.

He knew not of debt.

The war was a memory.

His country… America was a peace.

He’d made no mistakes… no mistakes of consequence.

His parents were together; his family intact.

There was nothing he needed

really needed that he didn’t have.

 

The roads to his life were fully open to him.

 

The boy looked about the beautiful world that encompassed him

and felt the wonder of his strength.

 

The wonder of his youth.

 

The boy pulled the oar through the water and felt the miracle that,

possibly,

might be felt only by the very young or the very innocent.

 

Peace.

 

Absolute peace.

 

 

 

©July 30, 2011 / Mark M. Lichterman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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