Angela Allen

A toddler in a leopard print faux fur jacket stoops to intently poke at rocks and sand on a rocky beach

A child
exploring, head down,
pushing a stick through
sandy debris, poking
a commonplace shell,
shiny and wet,
startled by it all.

black stones
to pocket for later,
curl in an index finger,
skip across flat water
like the boys taught us.

Broken shells, bits
of butter clams, mussels,
dying jellyfish washed-up,
nothing whole or large
except sky and sea.

Gulls yammering,
falling into a ragged V,
as if they are flying

We’ve searched
for a message in a bottle,
and never found one
other than the waves
tirelessly teasing, in and out,
breathing like tides.