The sun has laid a blanket of fire
over the white of the sand.
If I would touch the sea,
I must pay penance
with burning feet
as I run
the shore.

The salt of the water
I haven’t yet touched
sours my throat.
I spit into surf—
it doesn’t help,
but I don’t care—
as shock of froth rushes
around my ankles,
so I forget
the sting of the sand.

Higher rise the swells
around me, until
a rope of foam and sun-diamonds
slaps me cold in the face.
Chills snake up my spine,
whether from frigid waves
or from threat of
bull shark attack
in sinister shallow-hallowed waters,
I don’t know.

Away on the edge of the world,
I see the line of indigo
where continental shelf plunges
into darkness,
where the monsters of the deep
take their counsel.
Between them and me,
only this stretch
of emerald and blue-brown,
a study in watercolors.

For hours and hours,
the sea and I,
we play.
And later,
and wrinkle-fingered,
I churn my way back
toward shore,
my one disappointment—
that I never
caught sight
of a mermaid.


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