Phebe Davidson

Beach front bungalow. Quirky charm.
                Best off-season Rates.

He can tell that the house has mold
and there are old
towels–reeking, damp–
stacked in the cramped

linen closet. The roof line breaks
oddly. The shakes
that were lifted
by a storm shift

for no clear reason now. He thinks
about the stink
where sea meets land.
He hates the sand.

“Only two weeks and we’ll be gone.”
There’s too much sun
on the water.
Today, breakers

are pounding the beach. He reaches
for her hand. Speech
is beyond him.
Birds are skimming

low on the sea and he can feel
the way his heels
wash deeper when
each wave comes in.

The wind will stop keening by noon.
Patches of spume
will yellow screens.
She won’t have seen

the swells turning cold and gray in
the afternoon,
though she might have
told him “Enough,”

and said that they should go somewhere
else, whatever
they had to pay.
She was afraid.

The high tide mark creeps closer each
night to where he
lies with his wife,
their life squeezed tight

into the rented double bed
where they rest
above the sea.
Every night he

touches her shoulder, knowing she will
not turn to hold
him. In his dreams
gulls rise screaming.

In the morning they can see where
the surf has worked
underneath the
stilted house. They

see runnels of wet by the grill.
All day they will
try to pretend
they’re not frightened

by this, then they’ll watch the ocean’s
swat at black flies,
re-read their lease.

                          --previously appeared in Main Street Rag, 2009

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