Tragedy of the North Shore, valiant efforts to save a drowned Maine man. The Guardian 08/09/06

Now that I’m dead I regret boasting about the strength of my body

which I seem to have misplaced here in this whirling spindle

of white noise with zephyrs puffing patchouli scented air into

this tenebrous sepia-tinted noosphere.

On a blistering day in August while showing off my powerful breaststroke

racing across Angelo Rustico Bay like a bluefin tuna chasing a school of mackerel

I got caught in the invincible current of ebb tide, dragged out to sea by an iron fist

pummeling my pride. When my shuddering rubbery arms gave out I just wanted

to rest in pillow-like whitecap waves but was soon swallowed by billowing

sapphirine waters that lulled me to sleep

In school I was called “Chesty,” a burly hulk who baled hay every summer

building muscle-bound biceps and triceps; a wrestling champ of Penobscot

Bay and a crackerjack lifeguard at Old Orchard Beach, “an Olympic contender,”

they would shout from the shore..

A 911 call brought out the RCMP patrol boat, Parks Canada, North Shore

Fire Department and the Canadian Forces Sea and Rescue Comorant.

The search was called off as soon as it began by a bumbling squadron

of Keystone-like cops who mistakenly reported the swimmer safe

on Robison Island.

Lifeguards wouldn’t speak to the press other than saying: “There’s a current

out there and it surprises the swimmers. It’s always the best swimmers that drown.”

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J. 07605