We brought you here already tired,

my eighteen-month-old hunter-gatherer,

soldiering through sand to forage

for bits of treasure to bring back to me:

cigarette butts, broken shells,

a blackened match.


Grim-faced, you won’t look up

at arcs of gulls or muttering planes.

I nudge you close to children

but their laughter is a siege of shrieks.


You refuse to venture to the shore.

The waves make you cry, their ceaseless crashing,

the murky sluice of water, thick

with matted seaweed, yellow foam.


I try to tempt you there with castles carefully

tipped out of plastic buckets,

festoon the grainy cakes with twigs and pebbles—

but you topple them all

then trudge away.


In the car ride home,

the look you give me is an old man’s

relief. At last we’ve left

the roar of the world.