We were crossing a wide beach toward a blacktop parking lot. I forget now who I was with or where we were going the year The details of that particular beach vacation that summer break. Morning not long after sunrise the day already hot. In the parking lot six women wrestled a package of sorts Emerged from the side door of an SUV onto the beach carrying A small weight in a blanket like a sling or a makeshift stretcher. Six women one at each corner of the blanket two at the middle. I couldn’t see what was in the blanket when they passed. No one looked at us their expressions solemn touched by grief. They stopped at the water’s edge and a skeletal head rose up Out of the blanket to look over the ocean as legs like sea straw Fell gently to the gentle surf which washed over them. To see the ocean one last time surrounded by friends. August the Georgia coast sand dunes trees permanently twisted Their crowns like long hair in a brisk endless wind blown back. How many mornings have I walked barefoot along the beach? Not enough. Never enough. Summer and heat and the ocean. Dolphins threading waves terns pelicans gulls squawking The salt smell of ocean and the shore stretching for miles All the way back to the beginning and before as if the blue Pool swelling out to the horizon licking wet at our feet is one Body and the waves repeat a heartbeat that won’t cease Unlike our own which will. Dying woman at the water’s edge Carried by friends to be close one more time to the ocean To sand under bare feet to the seashore on a summer morning.