you idly watch the tide close the entrance to the cove,
lulled by warm rays, dancing surf, rhythmic rushings.
i realize that we are hemmed in, no exit till low tide,
but oddly i’m not afraid.
you gather drift wood,
your eyes turning seaward to search for snorkels
in the rolling water just beyond the waves.
black, shiny figures emerge,
fin-flopping onto the beach in inelegant strides,
each with a handful of shell.
the prize pried out, trimmed and sliced,
you help hammer white rubber slices of abalone,
while the fire crackles.
your skin is salty and your hair wild.
your feet are grimy
and there’s sand in your bathing suit.
we are rid
of dinner tables full of plates and paper napkins,
of programmed conversation,
of requirements to sit up straight,
or wash hands before we eat.
i have no thoughts of homework,
no nervous self-consciousness.
nobody is grading or judging or even observing
my words and attitudes
your posture or the fleeting expressions that reveal you.
for the moment, the sea has freed us
and we are hidden
from the hands that relentlessly push us toward adulthood.