i see the woman on the beach
walking slowly with blazing-pink shoulders
slightly hunched. savoring the sea air skipping
across her tongue. she rolls it in her mouth
like old wine. the sun on her skin makes her feel young.
and pretty, soon a tan will surface pushing
five or even ten years from her face;
she has come for a makeover.
she will suffer the pain of blistering,
endure the shame of peeling,
risk the chance of cancer,
return again tomorrow with her fold-out chair
below her arm and misting bottle
peek-a-booing from her beach bag.
i see the teenage girls clicking
along the boardwalk, passing time outside
the ice-cream parlor, flowing in and out
of shops like wind through a dry mouth.
the sun cuts into an eye, it wants to set
into them, sink into their skins and melt
their bones down. in mini shorts and bikini tops
they taunt the sun with oily thighs. daring to defy
the seeds of time. i watch them aging
in apparitions of heat rising off the planks.
their beauty and brazenness withering,
falling from the vine.
i see the tent where mothers escape the heat
sipping pink lemonade, swapping exaltations
of game winning goals and good-kid grades;
vigilant of shark fins and strangers lurking near,
even the lifeguard is oddly suspect.
the swimming boundaries are drawn at the closest
buoy. their children wrestle with waves and float on
rubber dinosaurs; the sun weeps for them.
by Bill Pieper
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