Last Afternoon at the Beach
Jennifer Davis Michael

Last Afternoon at the Beach

The sand grows golden with the sinking sun,
and footprints slowly fill with shadows.
Men and women, crusted with sweat
and sunscreen, bend to fold their chairs,
shake off the accumulated grains of the day:
moments caught through salt-blurred lenses.
Children straggle up from the ebbing tide,
chafed by sun, wind, and admonitions.
Their buckets clink with shells,
smelling of salty decay.
Next year they will be older, less in awe
of the sublime reach that pulls, gives back,
pulls and gives back. This day,
so fresh and clean at its unfurling, darts
like a ghost crab past the corner of your eye.

Jennifer Davis Michael

is Professor and Chair of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mezzo Cammin, 3 Elements Review, Switchgrass Review, and Literary Mama, among others. She is also the author of a book of criticism, Blake and the City (2006).