Paved with Diamonds
by Linda Dousay
Friday, May 12, 2006
Rated "G" by the Author.
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It was 1963, and my parents
were moving to Jacksonville, Florida.
Why me? Cheerleader, in the 7th grade,
in love with the boy of my dreams.
I practiced writing my name-to-be
—Mrs. Lynn James Benoit—
But what did it matter to parents
bent on their own way?
A southern girl takes her vows
seriously—I promised undying love—
packed pink curlers, record player,
bobby socks, tight skirts and sweaters;
wished the S.J. Welsh Middle School
every possible win—and moved
to another planet.
Jacksonville’s highways were paved
with diamonds glittering in the hot sun.
Daddy drove to Jax beach.
Mama saw them first—whitecaps
rolling high above the skyline,
then folding over, it seemed, on top
of the road. I thought Beach Blvd. ran
straight into the depths of the ocean.
Daddy drove beneath tall archways
onto sand, where miles of white
met crashing surf, and long
wooden boardwalks were lined
with hot dog stands, loud music,
surf boards and beach boys—
dark tans, sun-bleached hair,
and other people unlike ourselves.
Heaven on the east coast was buried
under the glum of the west side.
My clumpy saddle oxford shoes,
pageboy haircut—old fashioned.
I chopped off my dishwater blond hair,
threw socks and shoes to the back
of the closet and stayed in my room
while the rest of my family watched
Hoss and Little Joe ride the Ponderosa.
Who needs friends, I reasoned.
Roy Orbison sang “Only the Lonely”
and “Blue Bayou.”
I wrote poems to Lynn.
Mama had a plan:
Cut more of my hair
and add a permanent.
My baby-fine hair
frizzed and burned!
Next, penny loafers,
matching leather belt,
bleeding madras shirt,
burgundy A-line skirt,
my own bottle of English
"Now!" she said.
Friday found me at a drive-in
on a double date.
My friend introduced me to her friends
parked on the left side of our car.
During intermission, one of the boys
asked my friend for my number.
He called the next morning.
"We're going swimming...,"
I saw rolling waves, sand, and
falling in love with a miracle
walking the shores of my soul.
“... in a canal,” he said.
I saw bottomless pits, dark
waters, unknown monsters
swimming murky depths.
He laughed, “Come with me.
I’ll show you heaven on earth.”
We packed fried chicken, drinks
and seven kids into a borrowed car.
The place was like home—
soft Saint Augustine grass
and shade trees reaching
across deep water.
I sat on the ground
running my fingers
through thick velvet
while everyone jumped
from a rope hanging in a tree.
He held my hand and led me
to the top of the tree.
If I kept my eyes open,
pumping my legs as soon as
I hit water, I did not go deep.
“Let’s jump two at a time,"
"It’s easier on the bottom
of the rope,” he promised.
I felt wind in my face,
thick rope clutched
between my hands—
and fear. If I failed
to let go, I’d swing
back and hit the tree.
When his foot hit the top
of my head, I lost all faith.
Breaking the water a second
before him, I sank deeper,
until I knew I would never see
the Florida sunshine again!
Fighting my way to the surface
I climbed on shore, trembling.
He wrapped me in a towel
and told me to come with him
to the other side of the tree.
When I could talk, I told him
I hated Florida, hated my parents,
and hated my hair. I told him
my aunt believed out of sight
was out of mind, but Granny
said absence made the heart
grow fonder. I didn’t know
which was true . I was afraid
my friends would forget me.
When I quit crying, he said,
“In Louisiana you call this a bayou.
We call them canals. Some of ours
are man-made but they are the same.
I don’t want you to leave, but
if you do, I won’t forget you.”
He liked my Cajun accent—
my scraggly hair. He said,
“Boys should have long hair
and girls should have short.”
His father was a cross-country
truck driver. “If you leave,
one day I’ll jump in his truck
and I'll come knocking
on your door. I’ll find you,
even in Louisiana. I’m different.
I want to be free—like a bird
flying over this water. And
I want my own band.”
He told me of a group in England.
"People don't like them. Especially
their leader. Mick’s a real rebel.
Have you heard ‘a rolling stone
gathers no moss’? Well, that's me,"
he said, leaning back in the grass.
“I want to fly through the world
with no worries." His favorite song
was Heart of Stone."
I didn’t know who Mick Jagger was,
and I had never met a truck driver—
but I knew I had met someone
I would never forget. And that day,
on the banks of a Florida canal—
I learned to be still—I learned
to look out over the water—
And I fell in love for the very last time.
For Ronnie Van Zant, 1948-1977
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|Reviewed by Elizabeth Price
|I love the journey back to the beginning of the world: When we were born. lol. I know the world didn't start with us but your poetry reminds me of my own past and the bittersweet memories. Thoroughly enjoyed.|
|Reviewed by William DeVault
|I am very pleased with this, very pleased. I love the entire sense of it, the earnestness.|
|Reviewed by Tami Ryan
|Excellent work. Welcome to AuthorsDen!
|Reviewed by Phillip William Allen
|Enjoyed the story line completely. Well put together|
|Reviewed by Peter Paton
Very poignant and bittersweet write...
As my Pop used to say " Never say Never "...:)
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Wow! Quite the sharing, Linda. Thank you. Love and peace to you,
|Reviewed by E T Waldron
|An exceptional poem! Thanks for sharing part of your bio,excellent work!