“William”

She would walk the beach, her footprints, palimpsests
of journeys week after week in Sunday best –
fine lace and white silk from Victorian boutiques.
A bystander looked askance at this woman in wedding gown
a lonely widow or abandoned bride, clinging to hope.
Yellow shawl defeated by the overcast day
gives up its purpose, and slips off her shoulders.

In the sun-hardened mud, his name carved with parasol,
she feared in marble relief what the sea would soon erase –
sand offers little comfort to a heart fighting grief.
Hands weak and numb, sun’s power swallowed by winter
– she closed her eyes and saw waves batter him
on the rock jetty stealing from lungs, air that gently
whispered her name and washed it and flesh out to sea.

To spite the chill,
she willed an embrace and the last kiss of soft lips.


Image: Waiting for William, John George Brown

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