Three beach scenes


Bathers emerge from bubble bath blue.
Take a closer look. They peel
away swimsuits to show off flesh that proves
how close we can come to paradise.
And it becomes a sleek synthetic flux,
that flows, falls from around  their skeletons,
slithers from non-stick bones
as they flirt, couple, coelesce.
A finger of wind fondles their discarded bodies.


Green beachball, dead flower stems, dirty papers.
Lovers locked tight as intertwined cobras
in the dunes where scrubby sand bickers with the wind
for possession of a faded blanket.
We'd hoped for a more sophisticated effect:
a flash of eyebrow,  a turn of ankle.
Accidents happen only to the stupid or careless:
we get corkscrew legs, white animal haunches,
scruff of brown hair.


An unsuitable shoe's deceived by the rocks,
shovels sand inside, cops a slug of seawater.
His feet are cold stones.
The woollen scratch of his hat;
the weight of the kit he's lugged all this way.
But these are the only times he's really happy:
mingling cool respect with studied lack of trust.
A stone skims over a sleepy sea:
either an elegant  calligraphic hand,
or the dead weight of day-after-day:
thoughts crammed so hard
you can't make sense of anything, anymore.

Peter Howard

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