Harbor Island

by Michael Diebert

Farther down the beach,
kids are bumping each other, screaming with delight.
A kite puffed up by the wind. Twilight,
high tide, hyperactive sea.
We ease Mom into the unfolded folding chair,
help her button her sweater. She grins
through the pain. No walker,
no cane, no wheelchair, not yet.
She's from a line who says it does no good
to complain. I'm tired, too, resolve-free.
In the surf, a heron is sneaking up on dinner.
My wife and I wade in ankle-deep.
I wish I had handy a big old plastic shovel
to dig a bed and dream
the even-keeled dreams of the dead.
There is much to be said about this beach
that can never be said, or if so,
by someone with a mind like sand,
someone here year-round.
Farther down, kids are fighting
to keep a fire going. They fan, they blow.
Mom looks on from a body which has betrayed her
and in a low, flat voice—
sadness, gratitude, we'll never know—
says she could sure go for some lobster,
claws and all, the real stuff, the kind you have to want
to work for.

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