Sweeping the Sands
Appearing from nowhere, sifting through gaps
of bathers huddled back to the tideline,
folding away their day, to leave behind
nothing but fine-grained impressions, head down,
head-phoned, his gliding, scanning sweep moved in,
halting only to finger-pick his cradled palm.
As he passed we asked what he might hope to find.
Lost change. Sometimes over ten pounds each day,
which seemed a treat to us, but pulling out
his phone he showed, fingers spanning to enlarge
the image: a solitary gold coin.
Found elsewhere, in some park, worth sixty times more.
Not that he’d sell. In soil, he explained, lost
treasure rests not far below the surface
within the detector’s three-foot range;
suspended in time; waiting to be found.
But here, in sand, everything sifts down
slipping further away until claimed by bedrock.
Naïve, I know, but I had never before
considered anything other than the sand
being endless. But unless some great storm
turned over the depths, churning it back up
to the top, there it remained out of reach.
Later from the cliff-top house we looked down
onto the beach. Everyone gone but him.
Still scanning the sheen of the ebb tide’s retreat.
The last light of the sun sparkling. Shallow
streams, shimmering silts, all flowing back to the sea.