we walk to the beach
my son and i holding hands
eager to feel the surf wash
over our ankles and calves
the force of the tide pulling
at us grabbing
at us

i lift my camera and shoot
stills of my child in action
his lanky seven year old form
against the waves

i sit on firm sand
that hard flat place
divided from the soft
hilly mounds by undulating
lines of broken seashells

only for a second i look up
and he is gone
i stand
searching frantic
he is running fast away
from me turns
and runs back

calmed i sit
again the beach is nearly empty
this twilight time
between setting
sun and the brilliant white
hot that preceded it

a woman walks at
the very edge of the foaming
a puppy at her side makes
a mad dash
at my child he is unaware
caught by surprise as puppy feet
at his back and rough tongue
licks salt
from his face and neck

we talk she moves on
it is time to get back
our moment
of idyll turns
to red
seething anger
as he becomes increasingly

something about sand
in his

his complaining tips my mood
upside down
and i am suddenly weary
of being his mother
anyone’s mother
a mother

i snap where moments before
i feared
for his life
i now wish to be
utterly alone

yet now
sitting at a wooden table
with a vase of plastic flowers
i watch him swing
silently on the porch
save for a striped towel
wrapped around his narrow

he watches the boats
in the canal

and i love him
he is so much
myself i let the bad
feelings wash away
from me
like so many waves
pulling me
to a better