Just ten years ago, I felt young,
before that, not old enough.
Before now, geologists say,
there was a before, a before before
when ice, white cedar trees, and dark
brown salt deposits lined the coast.
When the waves pound the shore,
I hear the churning, churning
of saltwater like the buckled inner-
workings of the mind.
The surging of desires that wash
ashore, recede, and reemerge
like a hand extending
and then retracting itself mid-air.
On the boardwalk, a couple shares
a scone. Ahead, a child carves
a moat around a sandcastle. Above,
the seagulls seem lost—
they throw their bodies into the air
any which way, skim the water’s
surface, then take flight, as if to say:
Never mind or not today. I close
my eyes: salt turns to sugar in my mouth.
The January sun stings
my eyelids amber. Beneath this layer
is another layer: of cedar, peat,
marsh. Two teenagers giggle
with lattes. One young, the other
even younger. How many mornings,
like this one, have I already forgotten?
A Labrador chases a tennis ball
into the water and flashes its teeth.
I grin back. Day, too, froths at the mouth.
Shannon K. Winston’s poems have appeared in Crab Creek Review, The Night Heron Barks, RHINO, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. Her poetry collection, The Girl Who Talked to Paintings, was published by Glass Lyre Press in 2021. She currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Find her at shannonkwinston.com.