(the last day of the holidays)
Jack stares at the small wooden fishing boat
secured by a weathered and salt-caked rope
(I never did have a ride in it, though I did catch
a fish off the pier with Dad one morning). Cat-like,
the little boat rubs against the sea-stained post.
Mary sings (“she sells sea-shells by the seashore”),
her footprints, like soft kisses, litter the sand, are yet to fade
beneath the waves, show signs of her meandering walk
to reach the pier. Once there, she stands, listens to the water
hitting the mussel-crusted poles with persistent liquid thumps.
The shore is littered with drying seaweed in rolled-up tresses,
discarded like hair on the floor of the local Hairdresser’s.
Above, a seagull, pirate of the sky, buffeted by wind, stays aloft.
Its feathers ruffled, its wings stretched taut, the gull’s cry,
mimics the sadness the seaside children feel in their hearts.
Mary stands at the edge of the world, her feet,
feel the earth beat as they sink into the world beneath
the sand: She is lost in sea-spray and the world’s rumble
while in the distance voices of other exploring children
explode like firecrackers, let loose fiery cries of discovery.
An early morning jogger runs along the shore
While Jack’s wet hand pats the sand into a mound
the size of a mountain. The strengthening wind sprays sand,
whispers secrets about the world. Jack sniffs salt-heavy air,
senses the rain approaching from the Antarctic south.
Mary and Jack look out to where the rain already falls,
far out beyond the largest waves, out where whales swim.
Silently they clasp hands and wonder — will minor spirits
consent, convey their flesh to a fantastic shore? Could they
fly on the wind or sail upon the waves to some undimmed land?
The spell is broken by their mother’s re-appearance
and she leads them away from the shore and into shelter.
Through the windows, Mary and Jack’s eyes are drawn back
to the horizon, while their ears still ring to the ocean’s song,
the beach they love may soon be gone but never forgotten.