Winter 02






We are on vacation. We migrate every morning toward the shore,
scattered, at first, like kites pulled through the sky on taut strings,
then reeled in, an embroidery of beach umbrellas on sand.

Every morning, we pull toward the ocean. We are refugees,
stumbling through sand, carrying babies and beach blankets.
Planes pull banners through the sky, telling us where to go.

There are boats, but not for us. We watch them far away,
the sailboats and fishing boats, the cruise ships and cargo ships.
They are our horizon. When boats come close, we wave at them.

We do this every day. We walk among the living and the dead
the ocean leaves for us. The waves have swept a sea turtle to shore,
fearsome even in death, like a long sunken ship raised from the deep.

We cannot look away. There are always the claws and shells,
the empty eyes of fish, but the turtle is whole. The great head
lolls like a grandfather's. The arms and legs dig like a child's.

We sit in another place. The tide leaves sand crabs for children
to chase, gulls like sea clowns. We point to one, then another,
say how this one is like a banker, that like a mischievous boy.

We leave with the sun low, leave with the changing of the living
and the dead. The next day, we join the morning migration.
Machines have combed the beach clean. We are on vacation.



Barbara Westwood Diehl is editor of The Baltimore Review. Her poems and stories have appeared in Antietam Review, Crescent Review, Thema, Negative Capability, Maryland Poetry Review, and a variety of other publications.