Alessio Zanelli

Sunset from Byron’s Grotto
Sunset from Byron’s Grotto in Portovenere, Liguria, Italy

At The Seaside

Her hand holds his, clenches it at times,
readily pulls his arm upward
to keep him safe from the breaking wavelets.
His little body is almost lifted off the sand.
The early-morning swash is too cold for his bare feet,
even at the height of summer.
He is a sickly child, born with a malformation,
mostly wears a shirt and a hat
even when the sky is veiled, or sunrays strike next to level.
He moans and whines, digs in his heels or wiggles around,
puts on a pouty face. Why, he doesn’t really know.
Maybe he wants to be let go,
free to splash along the water’s edge,
or else to collect shells and pebbles.
But Mom can see, sees well beyond the horizon.
One day, not before quite some time has forced them apart,
alone on the beach at the crack of dawn,
memories hardly emerging from the glitter,
he’ll be allowed a glimpse of what alarmed her bosom’s eyes.
Then all will be crystal clear:
the yanks, the rants, the harmless punishments.
He’ll want to be able to go back in time,
through every single moment.
Inseparably. Hand in hand.
A child again. And everything.

First published in Artemis (USA)