In the Month That Would Have Been Our Anniversary
by Jeffrey Alfier

I went alone down the expansive beach road
strangers take by car, but is best walked
at a slow pace, noting the shell fragments
that inscribe their histories on the pages
of the flanking dunes. Reeds were about me
at first, but they gave way to sparser tones,
the seabirds’ realm, an empire of midday heat
and the surf’s whisper. As the road banked
upward, I shaded my brow. When the Atlantic
fell into view, I walked on to the sloping
shore, buttressed with salt-stung sky.

Somewhere in that breadth of sand,
a young woman waited for her boyfriend,
who’d return with pricey kiosk food
of doubtful taste. But she praised him
for enduring so long in queue with June
heat eroding forbearance of body and mind.
I would have seconded her compliment,
yet there was little to say that would bridge
her own world with mine, so all I could do
was linger in the unsaid, like a child worn
from swimming, a conch shell in his palm,
the ocean a dial tone through his sleep.


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