As the afternoon converses
with the day’s dying light
at the beach near our house
my son and husband find a few mussels,
opened and empty,
shimmering along the shore.
They put some in their pockets
to add to his collection of big kid things:
feathers, uneaten acorns, rocks from the driveway—
currency for a toddler crossing into boyhood.
Meanwhile, my husband knocks on the door
of middle age, rubs his back that aches from bending.
His patience grows weary
from small talk with a small child.
They walk back to the house
in the summer heat
In this place they call silence,
away from my constant preening
and his sister’s machinations,
he takes his little sandy hand
across another country,
reaches for his father’s with all the strength
his four-year-old hand can muster.
Neither is willing to let go.