Sharon Dolin

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Sharon Dolin

Mitzvah at Gordon Beach


Down the ramp
             to the sun-sequined sea,
                         I was musing over the time
                                      I was seven and living on Kings
                         Highway and practicing handball against
                the neighbor’s brick wall when I looked down
and found seven dollars lying
             on the ground and climbed the steps to ask
                          the woman if she had lost the money
                                         went home a few doors down
                          for my father to scold me:
             Of course she’ll say it’s hers!
For days I lived—part-fearing someone would
             knock on our door
                            part-knowing I had entered an open-sesame
                                           of good luck: whispering
                            se-ven dol-lars into the air into my father’s ear
             into my mother’s my sister’s ear
a chant for chance: se-ven dol-lars
             till my sister and I went to buy Mouse Trap
                            and a teal vinyl dressing-case for my Tressy doll
                                           (Her hair grows!) back then
                            I only wanted dolls that were miraculous—
             could speak or record my voice or grow their hair.
So what triggered me to think of this memory
             teal-tinged more than fifty years later
                            at Gordon Beach where I paid
                                           for chaise longue and umbrella
                            after buying my coffee and approaching
             the sea? I remembered I had forgotten my coffee
went back and glanced down at the stone
             walkway where a zippered cotton pouch lay
                            and I knew it was for me
                                  to discover and retrieve—
                            that I was brought into
             this moment through memory
and forgetting
             so that I already knew (without unzipping it)
                            this portable beach wallet—
                                           like the one I was carrying—
                            contained a wad of cash—cards—ID.
             Having no local phone
I stopped an Israeli couple
             (after knocking on the window
                            of an empty police car)
                                           asked them to return the wallet
                            as soon as possible—
             all of us were heading into the Sabbath—
I knew I could trust them
             that I was sharing the mitzvah
                            of returning lost objects
                                           to their owner.
                            Then I dove into the teal sea
             where the sun made helixes
and sine curves on the surface
             for me to swim through.


Sharon Dolin reads “Mitzvah at Gordon Beach”

Sharon Dolin is the author of six poetry collections, most recently  Manual for Living  (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). Her translation from Catalan of Gemma Gorga’s  Book of Minutes  appeared in the Field Translation Series (Oberlin College Press, 2019) and her prose memoir, Hitchcock Blonde, was just published  (Terra Nova Press, 2020). She lives in New York City where she is Associate Editor of Barrow Street Press and Director of Writing About Art in Barcelona.