Fall 2014 / Issue 96

Rachel Richardson



Summer is a day. The terns swirl

on the wind, letting it toss them

this way and that, then

dive—their bodies arrow

into the shallow waves.





A pair of urns on the mantle

twined with a Japanese floral pattern,

a delicate pink petal—





Each day I listen through closed eyes

to the waves lick the beach,

the sun kaleidoscoping bright shapes

inside my lids. One daughter fills a bucket

with periwinkles, then

empties it into the surf.

One daughter kicks on a towel in the shade

of an enormous umbrella,

dazzled at the movement of the air.

My grandmother came here

fifty-two more summers

after her daughters died. Even now

in the leaning garage

stand their small bicycles.





This wind. These pressed flowers

falling out of the old hardbound

Robinson Crusoe, Just So Stories

their weightless drift to table.

This day. This hour. The mossy shingles

by the outdoor shower. This light.

Summer is a day. In my grandmother’s last year,

my mother asked me to take the paper

and wipe as she held the frail woman

above the toilet bowl. Her body had reduced

to sinew, slack. Her cotton pants billowed

around her knees. Her long hair fell

in a thousand wisps around her face,

too fine to be held in the braids the children

still each morning wound around her head.

I had never been asked to minister.

I had hardly touched her in years.