They tell the story as if
it were yesterday, not a century ago.
We had waited for the tide fall
and driven over a rough patch of red clay
onto the island, parked and walked up
a narrow slope to the big house
he built and lived in part of the year,
a national site now for this railroad
pioneer, but then it was another home,
a place for the summer and to entertain.
He dined with the premier, mayors,
local dignitaries in a massive dining hall,
hunting the deer a highlight until
all the deer died and then, well
we didn’t learn what the next event was.
We did hear of the children, wastrels
it seems in a sea of wealth.
One son would drink inordinate amounts
of alcohol, leap onto his motorcycle,
lock the throttle at full speed
then jump off. He died at 33.
Another of the offspring would fill
his yacht with alcohol and friends
and sail into the horizon, some
returned, some didn’t. He drowned
in his own vomit at 21. It was life then.
I’m sure there were more sad tales,
but the tide was shifting, red clay wetting,
the narrow drive home a distance away.
Marc Swan recently left the regular work-a-day to focus on writing, travel and music, not necessarily in that order; poems out this year in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Binnacle, Garbanzo, Nerve Cowboy and The Echo Room, among others.