Peg Boyers


The old woman in the chaise stares at the sky, imagines clouds, 
definition where instead there is only emptiness—blue and unforgiving.
Her gold necklace leaves dents on her loose leather chest.

She listens to the raucous children playing ball,
screaming in German or French or Italian; 
they are all tri-lingual in the adjacent capanna.

She imagines herself with a pail, shoveling 
sand, packing it flat, smoothing 
with the shovel so not one crease remains.

The sand is the skin of the beach. 
Dry and old as 
God. She is alone, but not alone.

Her man is walking along the water’s edge, 
enjoying the topless beauties basking on the pier, 
their hard nipples bobbing in conversation with the sun.

She remembers the eyes of men on her once plump breasts.
It was not entirely unpleasant. 
But very tiring.  Even then.

The attendant in his white shorts and yellow cummerbund
adjusts the awning overhead,
brings her a pail of water to rinse her feet.

She nods and begins her end-of-day ablutions—
cool water on her painted toes, 
gritty towel on her back,  

breeze picking up over the lagoon and the sand 
sinking to the pail bottom, imitating the hourglass,
telling her it’s time.