The Sand Dancers

In a faded photo, they dance on shore,
two kids we were, scuffing up bursts of sand;
hands rise and fall in a rapid step-slide-spin

on bumpy sand hills, seawater creeping closer
and no matter: wearing swimsuits, mostly bare,
they shimmy, high as gulls on one another,

and unaware they’re skipping on a grave.
Death’s relics gleam in sun, unrecognized:
the black skull, once a horseshoe crab;

the jellyfish with blood red intestines;
barnacles stuck fast on eyeless stones
and nodding at them like beheaded saints;

a cracked, abandoned temple of a razor clam;
chartreuse hair rising when waves recede;
all icons to commemorate the drowned,

shipwrecked in the shallows off this coast,
voyagers and whalers, catch-fisherman.
Instead the two join hands and swing out, rollicking,

moonwalk on rocks sea-polished into eggs
and fixed like pebbles visitors set on markers.
Fresh as sea foam, bright as the break and shuffle

of a long wave gone white before it roars,
its turbulence their only orchestra,
how could they know the years would sail them

past this mud-drenched glow? Private losses,
public wars, together, apart, together?
Now it’s heel-toe, as if they didn’t hear

the clink of a buoy warning of danger
as the chill wind lifts a wave’s underbelly
to gather force and strike in its time.

Grace Schulman is the author of the collection of poems Without a Claim, and is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared widely in journals here and abroad.
tags: Poetry, Poetry & Fiction   
Tip Jar Email Bookmark and Share RSS Print
Get Tikkun by Email -- FREE

COMMENT POLICY Please read our comment policy in full here which requests civility and sticking to the topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment for any reason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *