My mother walks the beach, carving the sand
below the tide line and its grubby piles of skeletons.
I’m pebble dashing behind her, scouting the shore
for a shell to put my ear to and hear the sea splashing.

She removes her headscarf, the sun warming her scalp,
her feet cooling in saltwater, sinking into the wet sand
as if she could root and let the tide submerge her.

Above us gulls are skirling gauzy skies
and to one side the shovelling waves,
and all along the hollow homes, the sandy graves
of things that roamed and bred. I clasp each one against my head.

The rain is making a slow crawl inland,
needling the horizon, the wind stumbling
ahead of it, crumbling and ruffling the clouds.

With each fragile tomb the same sound,
something akin to a heartbeat, the muffled rhythm of a womb.
We will have to leave now to beat the weather,
withdraw together to the blood warmth of the car.

I turn in time to see the waves frothing, surging the shore.
She takes the pills, they say there’s nothing more to do.

Later, after she’s put me to bed, she’ll feel it, the reach of the sea,
swelling inside her like a baby, quiet and heavy, its dark waters ready to break.