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We leave the beaches for the tourists, mostly

and the history of tourism, a history
of our shadow selves: wing-prints of fallen
angels in shimmering sand, flapping,

flapping – the soul’s earth mapping or
a mating dance. Mouths, an upturned string
of shells opening to a vast and mythical sky.

These are the things they leave behind.

A paddleball court etched in the muddy flats
where a ruddy turnstone makes his nest’s
scrapes, space for a female’s eggs; and

seagulls dive for nacho chips and funnel
cake; and the sanderling’s shrill song is the echo
of a mother’s plea to her children out too deep.  

These are the calls we hear in our sleep.

Or, the black-bellied plover’s plaintive call
as he circles the shore for a sandworm
or a crab – or for something, something

to eat – and absently darts toward
a sand castle made from plastic-cup molds
and a child’s empty pail, pink or lime green

or gold. And a wave with a biblical thrust
catches them off guard: a torrent
of coconut oil and ocean spray, a sandal,

a drugstore romance – then the bright, shallow
meadows and plank. Kitsch in a tide’s eternal
crawl and roll and spray. Song and refrain.


Copyright © 2018  M. B. McLatchey. All rights reserved.
Published in  Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art, Issue 13.

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