Elegy Where I Initially Refuse to Eat Sand

My mother liked to eat beach glass and sand
people stepped in. Not many
girls would forgive

such a palate. I was willing
to forgive her half moon-
shaped cookies called Swedish sand tarts

before I believed the old world
ingredients wouldn't make me cough
sea shanties or pirates' bones, notes-

in-a-bottle. Like the letter my newly dead
uncle's just sat down to write
since his heart attack slumped him

in the sand near his yellow
house on stilts. He died digging
to heal his hurricane-

split sewer line. I was willing
to forgive his last words to me—
two weeks before—as we swam

through the lukewarm gulf: Where'd you get
those boobs?he laughed through
his backstroke. He wore red

seaweed on his bald spot. He refused
dentures, drawled with a lisp that hinted
at what's missing. I was

willing to forgive his last words
because I coughed up a salt wind,
because I hummed, Way,

hey, blow the man down! as I kicked the dark
glass: a Budweiser's end. By then the bottle's note
had vanished, or got soaked clear through. By

then I knew Where'd you get
those boobs, meant how violently childhood
bites its mirage into the waves, or I painted

the beach house yellow after
your favorite storybook bird. My mother
liked to eat beach glass and sand

people stepped in. This Christmas I ask
for the recipe that will raise
all the gulf's grit in my mouth.

by Anna Journey

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