Artist (My Mother on the Shore)

My mamma’s paintings are actually
collages of beautiful beaches
where she longs to be
collecting shells in a white cover up
white hat flipped up; hair flipped under and out,
styled by the salty air.

Slightly bent at the shoulders,
her head bowed, the angle
as if she is in a church, instead of here

looking intently at the foaming tide,
listening to the gentle rustle of treasures
tossed by waves—
What has it brought this morning?
Small boats for painted shores?
Tiny sails for framed harbors?
Faces of animals? This one here, a monkey!

I race up beside her and our ankles are
licked by the chilly ocean.

I bend quickly and scoop.
“Will this one work as a boat?” I ask.
“Maybe, maybe,” she says with a smile.
Our backs burn with the sun as we walk,

two dark silhouettes
on a brightening horizon.

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