There are sightings of a sea mammal
beached by the jetty at Ditch Plains.
“Hey, It’s me! What’s the fuss?”
A local boy from the Ditch Witch concession
is the first to call in the report––
“A creature with an enormous belly
is being rocked back and forth
by the waves at the jetty’s edge.”
By eight o’clock, a small crowd
of beachgoers starts to gather around me.
Then a Marine Patrol vehicle, red lights flashing
comes bobbing and weaving down the beach.
“Are you okay, Sir?”
“Never been better.”
“Can you get up?”
“I can, but I won’t.”
By mid-morning, the crowd begins to disperse,
but there is talk in the town among the elder locals
at the Shagwong , sitting down at the bar
for their first drink of the day,
about what to do.
A real estate agent says I am driving away the tourists.
The owner of the pancake house
says I am bringing the tourists back.
One ancient fisherman claims I am scaring
the striped bass and that cannot be tolerated.
Another, perhaps wiser mariner, says
the striped bass themselves are curious.
He has seen schools of them coming
close to shore for a peek.
In the end, all at the Shagwong
decide to do nothing. Wait and see.
So I lie here all day and all night
and into the next.
When the sun comes up, a middle aged woman
pokes me hard in the ribs with a stick.
“Sir, you are scaring the children!”
“Madam, I am an American businessman
on vacation in Montauk Point.
Your children will be fine.”
And so they are.
Children running all around me,
playing tag with the sea,
bringing me their pails of sand.
More and more tourists come.
Hard-bodied hipsters, and women in white bathing suits
and long summer dresses that blow in the wind.
City folk taking photos of me with their iPhones.
The striped bass teem in the shoals.
On the second day, some political types
from East Hampton, the Mayor and four Trustees,
arrive at the beach with News Channel 12 in tow.
The cameraman puts his lens in my face
and the Mayor leans over for a close-up.
“We understand what you’re saying, Sir,
by lying here days on end by the water’s edge.
You have been an inspiration to us all.
We would like you to get up now.”
“I can assure you, Mr. Mayor, that I have
nothing to say of importance to anyone,
but it would be much appreciated
if you would splash some water on my face.”
The Mayor appeals to the lifeguards,
but they refuse to get in involved
in rescuing someone in no danger of drowning.
“The bather has his rights!”
By now, a celebrity who has invented
a new wine cooler arrives back in East Hampton,
and the Mayor is whisked off to greet her.
In the afternoon, the fog rolls in,
and the owner of the EAST DECK asks
a young physician from Manhattan,
a guest in an oceanfront,
to go and check me out.
“His pulse is slippery and weak.
His skin’s baked like a lobster.
Something has to be done soon.”
Still, I will not let them intervene.
Finally, on the third day,
the enclave of grey-haired surfers
that inhabits that small haven
between the dune and the jetty at Ditch,
and has remained aloof until now,
sends down their oldest emissary,
to determine what is what.
“It’s him all right. I never forget a face.
He was here in September ’64 with his older brother,
two weeks after Labor Day,
two Fire Island boys from Great Gun beach
came out for the swells from Hurricane Gladys.
Had that big green Dewey Weber board,
that beat up orange Volkswagen.