running on the beach

navigating the beach
between broken pilings
stubs of former lives

all day, like a game
you planned a place in the future
where little girls in helmets
like flying saucers
could ride their pink two wheelers
safely past the removal of training wheels

all day the children built faces
in the sand
mounds spiked with gull feathers
long bodies of reptiles
clawed into wreathes of sea grass

you run past them now
a severed fish head
gone fuzzy pearl as the sand
a dead bird
his last flight ended
on his back
as if he were diving now
into new underworld dimensions

you want everything
to live forever
you want something
right now
that you have no name for
no pictures
no plans

you want it
with an ache
that you almost fall into
like a sand pit
you’ve been digging all your life
its depth breaking through
the other side of the world

a sand face
grins up at you
his cigarette a stick
in the corner of his mouth
a mother explains to her son
how clever the willow
growing up out of that dead trunk

you’ve run yourself out for now
and you start back
to what you’re calling home
collecting wood
for the next fire

wendy shaffer

One thought on “running on the beach

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