Balancing on crutches in the shallows
near her mother, a girl missing her right lower leg
swings her body and falls, laughing.
Behind them, her father and brother play catch.
Up the beach, the incoming tide nibbles
a sleeping woman, another beer is opened.
A young veteran walks by with a high and tight
buzz cut and Semper Fi shoulder tattoo, his right leg
a prosthesis to mid-thigh. He approaches
the family, removes the prosthesis, and joins
the girl in the water. They lift shorn legs high
and smack them down. No one talks about the war.
If the ocean had a mouth
I'd lean close, my ear to her whisper and roar, her tongue scattered with stars. She'd belt her brassy voice over the waves' backbeat. No one sings better than her. Would she ever bite the inside of her cheek? Would she yell at the moon to quit tugging at her hem, or would she whistle, drop her blue dress and shimmy through space to cleave to that shimmer? What did she mean to say that morning she spit out the emaciated whale wearing a net for a corset? All this emptying on the sand. Eyeless shrimp. Oiled pelicans. Within her jaws the coral forests, glittering fish, waves like teeth, her hungry mortal brine.