Across the Bay

Across the bay at Mother’s Beach
they set up camp, blanket by blanket,
a small city of women and children,
stranded for the afternoon.

Lifeguards watch from towers
as the women fight the sand,
whisk it with their hands, stab it
with umbrellas, wade into the water and,
like so much fruit,
submerge babies who surface,
mouths open, too startled to scream.

The women lay back, eyes closed,
blue veins map their legs,
stretch marks scar their stomachs and thighs.
Shadows of their children cross over,
cold and wanting.

The gulls grow braver as the day ends,
patrolling the area for chips, abandoned crust,
while the children wait,
huddled on towels, salt dried on their backs
into the shapes of islands,
countries, other continents.
It will be washed off later,
a white cloud on the bottom of the tub.

Published in Friction, Voice

Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash