Coney Island, June 9, 1941
In Weegee’s photograph we see the boy
Unmothered underneath the boardwalk sign,
But it’s the man, his smile, on whom we fix
Our gaze, white shirt, white belt, white captain’s hat:
Our eye holds him a beat, then wanders toward
The littoral awash with roustabouts
And idlers, women half-undressed who laugh
A little loud because lost’s almost found.
But what about the boy who clings against
And to the man, child eyes forever closed?
Our object’s subject blurs. We look from boy
To man to boy before it clicks: We’re him.
Words focused, too, prove accurate, untrue:
By we it’s I we mean; by him it’s them.
Joseph Capista has a poetry collection, Intrusive Beauty, that recently won the Hollis Summers Prize and will be published by Ohio University Press in 2019. AGNI, Ploughshares, Hudson Review, and Georgia Review have published his poems. Capista teaches writing at Towson University.