Family

By Josephine Miles 1911–1985 Josephine Miles
When you swim in the surf off Seal Rocks, and your family
Sits in the sand
Eating potato salad, and the undertow   
Comes which takes you out away down
To loss of breath loss of play and the power of play
Holler, say
Help, help, help. Hello, they will say,   
Come back here for some potato salad.

It is then that a seventeen-year-old cub   
Cruising in a helicopter from Antigua,
A jackstraw expert speaking only Swedish   
And remote from this area as a camel, says   
Look down there, there is somebody drowning.
And it is you. You say, yes, yes,   
And he throws you a line.
This is what is called the brotherhood of man.

Josephine Miles, “Family” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1983 by Josephine Miles. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Illinois Press.

Source: Collected Poems 1930-83 (University of Illinois Press, 1983)

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Poet Josephine Miles 1911–1985

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Josephine  Miles

Biography

Lifelong California resident Josephine Miles distinguished herself as an educator, spending her entire academic career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first woman to be tenured in the English department. She is remembered as the editor of anthologies and critical texts, as an author of books on poetic style and language, and as an award-winning poet who produced over a dozen books of poems. Her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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