An enormous woman
twice the size of the four children
who surround her
stands up from bending down
and blots out the sun.
She has been picking up shells at the waterline
putting them in a collective bucket
but now as the children run on in front
she lumbers and hobbles after them.
With each step they are instructed to accomplish
the bones and cartilage involved
in the engineering of her knees
Her heart thumps
and the sun returns
as eventually she hoves from view
off into the rest of her particular life.
It's cold at the beach today
or the wind gives it that appearance.
The teenage boys don't care
in their board shorts and visible underwear
throwing wet sand balls at each other
falling into the water
unaware of the crocodiles of age
that are biding there as they do best.
There is no single Father Time or Death
walking to Samarra with a scythe
in pursuit of his many appointments;
we each have our own.
I am wearing a tank-top ('Mowgli Surf')
and a pale yellow pair of swimming trunks
without the slightest intention
of them earning their keep.
The kids, mother and child, are off up the beach
at the mostly empty Snack Shack
ordering A La Carte as they proudly announce you can.
Hamburger and haddock sandwich.
There is vague smell of sewage.
The annoyance of few enough voices
that they become recognizable, distinctive.
A screaming suddenly from the rocks to my left
as one child lashes another with a fat piece of seaweed.
Like much of Maine it feels like 1958
give or take, and on some days
that can be the best of times,
but with these fleas all jumping,
seagulls bored by the lack of action,
tattooed ladies (no beards)
giggling at their crying kids,
and a wish to be anywhere but here,
1958 feels like the exact size of my confinement.
A disappointing heaven of my own design and making.
And so I put down this pen
bought at my favorite Japanese store
when I was an altogether more urbane object
(JFK's JetBlue Terminal)
and simply observe myself
with equal parts pity and disgust.