Highlands Rising

Merry Christmas Highlands, A poem by Highlands local  Bob Mayers 2013 www.revolutionarydetective.com

Sandy—Your puppy soft name disguised a diabolical beast that slapped our little fishing village and spewed pain, sorrow, misery, frustration and humiliation. Be not proud- a year of healing and you are starting to fade away.

My thoughts as walked our quiet streets this past year—some things have changed, this time has not been bad, the warm season was pleasing and there is hope for going on.

But Jill’s gone, some say to Neptune City, four feet in her storefront. Heaven help our blue- eyed girl wherever she may be.

Ann’s gone, some say to a FEMA trailer- not sure where. Lost everything.

Russ was back the next day, climbed up to his second floor and as the waters ebbed mused on his forebears slogging through the same Parkertown marsh two centuries ago-no whining from him.

Clam Hut, trailer camp, and cherished boats- all gone forever. Is Skeleton Hill Island still there? Empty gas cans. Everybody told me a story.

In the aftermath angels gleamed upon our sight from faraway places and some appeared from among us. They came with blankets, pork chops, hot soup, backhoes and willing hands. They will never be forgotten.

Shades of those who came here before us- Lenape squaws with beach plums, Hudson on the Half Moon, pioneer Hartshorne, Cooper of Water Witch, Redcoats with muskets, watermen, actors, bootleggers, lighthouse keepers, artists,  bikers, people in chains and trains filled with soldiers-  these spectres look down through the vapor and weep in the night- They were saddened by our plight.

Diggers, goat-hillers and bennies mourned, cried together and held hands, but soon resumed their separate ways.

Lighter traffic down Bay on Saturday mornings. Where have all the people gone?  Mortgages and houses- under water.

Fewer small craft brimming with string bikinis and dudes swilling Bud Light ply the restless Shrewsbury. Less anglers scurrying round the Hook to ensnare the elusive fluke, slammer or wily striper. Even the fish were exhausted and spurned us as did the tasty blue claws of the Navesink.

Sheetrock piled high, the reek of mold and mildew, triage dumps are mostly behind us, but critters still claim the rows of aged beach cottages where our families, in decades past, came by train from the “city” in hot summers

Gone but not out.

Cars at Bahrs, dedicated ladies planting impatiens, blockbuster fests to honor the clam and the falling leaf. Election signs. Yamahas purring on the intrepid clam skiffs with hand-painted names you see on the 19th century census – they hardly missed a day, but Eddie didn’t come back.

A twin light still winks with empathy from the high place. Maureen and a flash of crimson in the community garden, John’s magic videos inspire.  A few homes on high pilings- now secure but awkward.  Lots of hopes, plans and dreams.

Harbingers of resurrection and things to come –and nibbles of rituals that provide the consolation we crave in a time of recovery.

And now maybe, high dunes, a world –class marina and a transit village. But the soul of old Highlands will never be lost and changes may be our salvation.


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