They’re burning their bare feet on the sand.
They’re baring their shoulders to burn in black tanks.
They’re biding their time until,
bending at the waist to scratch a slender ankle,
they’re turning their backs on the bay,
turning their backs on the sun,
they’re forgetting about the dunes, laying
a blanket in the cypress shadow,
lying on the laid blanket, laughing
in that way, calling from the shadows,
when’s lunch, calling, I’m so hot,
calling, what’s for lunch from the cypress
shadows, behind them the forgotten dunes,
the bay, the ocean, with everything else.
She strayed to the dunes
at the end of a party,
just months after her mother had died,
while the rest
of us ran up and down
the beach and called her name,
drunk and desperate, called
and looked for a drowned
daughter of a dead mother,
as if the child sought
her own absence, wanted
to hear how it sounded to be gone.
Once the family left their beach camp
to let the fire settle in for cooking,
walked up the strand to the bend
in sunset nostalgia for other days
of whales and digging,
holding hands of yearlings, new
to their own distances, when they
got back, what did they see but
the four sandals that had held the
corners of the Indian bedspread
and a handful of ash where it had been.