Petra White

Ricketts Point

A slim girl playing by herself in the shallows,

like someone who’s never been to the beach before

and suddenly marvels at how the world

tips open to broad deep space, not fearsome.

Seawater cool as milk intimately swirling her.

Sand hospitably absorbing and releasing her feet,

her mounting dance of being, luminously alone

on the sea’s hearth, its hissing welcome mat.

Two bearded men, perhaps her father and uncle,

identical as Kafka’s lodgers, further out in the waves.

A third man out there with them hurls them a ball;

they miss and laugh repeatedly, rolling like seals

under the waves and up again, under and over

their joy that won’t stay under, and mirrors and magnifies

the separate joy of the girl, her not-to-be-tested trust.

Smiling at strangers perched on their towels

who can’t help watching her, and smile back as if her world,

scribbled and wiped from soaked and pre-soaked shore

and flung from her hands in effortless wave-sprays,

was large or real enough to include them.