Dressed in polka dots and matching bonnets

they squat on cherub flesh

to catch froth in plastic buckets

from unrelenting surf,

dashing back to holes they’ve dug

with paper cups and plastic shovels,

hurry to meet another exploding wave


Behind them young mothers

glance over perfumed magazines

from the shade of cabanas

at the girls they once were,

at what’s been tossed or bargained away


Behind them young fathers,

hands on hips, foreheads enlarged,

pace wet sand in colorless swimsuits

silently commanding the ocean to be gentle

with their fearless little girls


If gods, they would hoist

these carefree nymphs

high on shoulders as once

they lifted little sisters,

hair cut short,

breath sweet as peaches,

and sweep them from the sea