The Shell Game

By: - Aug 24, 2015



Walk the spine of granite
in the motionless ocean
as the sea retreats
this perfect
tuna fishing weather
going to be ninety
secure the big black raft
which may have drifted in
from New Hampshire
it says on its bow
along with some numbers
in red
matching its stripes

People trickle down
despite the ebb

After three trips to the water
for half hitches
tie a loose bowline
on the painter
so the raft can drift
be enjoyed at any tide

Do you know her?
Do you know that woman?
O  I thought you were
throwing rocks at her at random

Is he back with his girlfriend?
Good for now
Peanut butter crackers
Tennis balls floating in the south easterly
from ninety to eighty degrees
lengthening umbrella shadows pale

Cause I don't know
there's something about that
pretty ICKY
on a good day
I bet he's . . .

Three fancy black couples
guys with a football
girls with wooly hair
twisted up gorgeous
open cover ups over bikinis
splashing in big surf

Five or six oriental youths
all with dark glasses
running into the waves
younger girls speaking
an unusual  language
no bikinis

White people crashing ashore
on boogie boards and bodies
perfectly timed for long rides
in the combers

Gulls walk among the people
searching un shy
didn't move for us on Salt Island
as they do on the boulevard
I met a guy up there
writing a poem
I thought you were!
And a teen girl stuck
because her friend might
drop the cell phones
needed both hands
to help her climb a rock
There was a dead gull
and two fishermen facing east

You know what I mean?
It's not like . . . every hour
No surfers
like there were yesterday
floating on the south east breeze

Man next to me
flat on the sand
towel to his knees
hat on his face

Wash your legs and arms
with soap and water
and hands and feet
and face
Mum makes me do that
before I go to bed

Man sits and eats chips
Boy wears the towel
Lady wraps small boy
in another towel
rocks him

Watch reads 18.18.36

The sea climbs the sand
Boys up the Life Guard Chair
Gull prints
Shadows in people prints
Company along Boardwalk
Number One
Ma'am you might
want to pass me
We got lotsa crap!
Turtles!  We're like turtles!

Melissa de Haan Cummings
29 July 2015