On a family vacation, on a beatiful beach, an argument broke out. I was embarrassed, dismayed, cowed; so I retreated from the fray and wrote about it. Later, I reflected on my own action - or inaction - in this poem.
How human the inhuman lure of abstraction
See, I've just made my point by ignoring
Tropical sea and sand outside my window,
Filling blank page with complex thought.
Yesterday two among us fired shots at each other
From their fine formulations of firm positions.
Numbers on a tide chart fell to salvos for freedom,
While group happiness defended itself at all costs.
Make sense? To me it didn't then and less so now.
I cowered in the tepid quiet of politeness,
Tiptoeing around imagimed minefields.
Beyong my dim sight, children frolicked
And saw the sky and sea for what they are,
Not yet as symbols for a war or a poem.
The waves rolled and broke and rolled on.
Later, no word spoken, the embattled embrace.
Should have had that talk long ago, one says.
I'd seen no skirmish, just a pas de deux,
Reality theater, by no means really war.
Was it my search for significance that made me
Focus on conflict, not the human dance?
On the beach sandcastles expand and multiply,
And the sun shines, as it has all along.
-Charles B. Neff-