I August 19
The sea beckons this morning,
blue and rippling, but the beach,
when I arrive, is not inviting.
Sand washed away in a storm
left gullies lined with rocks
collecting mats of seaweed.
At shoreline, a shape
sways back and forth
in the tide, the color of a rock
but not a rock, large, heavy, soft,
swollen beyond recognition.
Farther down the shore,
I wade through seaweed over rocks,
until I can swim out in cold water.
Gulls circle overhead. Cormorants
dry their wings on a rock in the sea.
My summer swims are numbered,
but I don’t count them. The ponds,
lake, bay, and ocean I swam in this summer,
the pool at the top of a waterfall—
all welcomed me. All but this cove,
this morning. As I left the beach,
I passed a herring gull splayed in the sand,
its neck twisted at an odd angle.
II August 20
I saw a young stag at the edge
of the lawn, browsing the bushes.
Its antlers wore a velvety sheen
in the early morning sunlight.
We looked at each other
for what seemed a long while,
his liquid brown eyes,
my blue eyes.
We stood perfectly still
until he meandered into a dark seam
waving his fluffy white tail.
Summer is playing with fall,
a cool breath of air, a square of hot sun.
The color of the sea is ultramarine.
These are the most beautiful days of the year.
As I watch them pass, I hold them close.
– Anne Whitehouse