raking shores

These are the woman working for their children, slinging sand as if it were gold –
not yet gold but the hope lingers,
stuck to their middles in wet clumps.

When they go home at night they shiver in fear:
the ocean is knocking, pulling walls to sea;
there is not a foundation left
untouched and they tremble,
knowing themselves to be thieves
knowing they cannot swim
and when they roll over they imagine the weight of salt
in the water, heavy bricks
inside of their lungs, shivering in fear

And the mangoes and papayas shrink from the salt,
sucked to the bone before any teeth can rip the skin
everything pulled in except the water rolling out
over land, vast and unaware

silver phantom dredges on the ocean floor
vacuuming the sand, drowned to silence
ensuring enough concrete each year
to build a cement cell and encircle the earth.

one woman to the next, one man to the next, one bucket down the line to the next,
hands ready, clambering to get out
before the sands shift, before the earth buckles
and those who cannot swim
fall to their knees
forgetting that sand takes thousands of years to form
rivers crushing and grinding stone to a grain


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