By the Sea

I walked with Clarice today.

She wore a skirt with accordion pleats,

An angora sweater,

and real pearls.

Her black shoes had round toes and straps.

Like a doll’s.

Her hair in Shirley Temple ringlets.

They bounced when she skipped,

and she did, twice.

We didn’t hold hands.

I wasn’t sure if she would permit it today.

There is a park bench by the beach.

We sat, and she was prim, like a lady.

Her eyes were on the whitecaps rolling in.

She patted my hand and said

They took her away this morning. My mother.

I said a wishing word last night, and she wouldn’t sleep.

You are my friend, David, aren’t you?

In all of this crimson kingdom,

you’re the only one who can come with me.

I know you see it. The path.

Can you keep me safe? These are mother’s pearls.

I must not say any more words. Will you come?

And I am in fear now.

I know her path.

But, to tread it?

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