Flowers 3

By Ricki Mandeville

Although the weather turns nasty, I head for the beach,
sit on cold sand hugging my knees, my hair snapping

like shredded flags in the wind. What do I have, really?
This shoreline, all to myself. Ashes of lost ones

boxed in cedar on a shelf. A pocket full of shells,
a notebook of poems with lines crossed out

sparse clumps of ice plant clawing at the dunes,
the ocean posing questions in a thousand whispers:

if I stay, will the chance of rain decrease, will the sky
lighten, will I become as worthy as the other shells?

I chart a path for my icy feet, over tar-speckled sand,
through anklets of kelp and thin, sudsy waves.

I’ll tread water for a while, then turn my back to shore
and stroke hard for Catalina, much too far away,

distant ghost cat arching a crooked spine against a thin spot
in the clouds where a few stars show through.

Perhaps the moon will slip from its dark envelope of cloud
to whiten my way. Perhaps the sand will change its mind

with the next tide, obliterate the imprints of my feet,
leave my shells scattered like lost stanzas, broken lines.

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