On Spring Break the boys dig a hole in the sand,

they buy real shovels, they give real sweat

to the ocean when she comes to collect

and call it a game.

In return she lets them reach for her

without just running in. She lets them do it their way, by accident,

saying they were looking for China,

before resting a moment in the bit of her cheek

they’ve uncovered beneath their feet.

One night my friend wears pink sequins and tequila

she put on as a costume and never stripped off,

takes a walk with a boy down the beach.

They attempt to negotiate an irresistible impulse,

become impasse: They can’t touch

because she can’t exist

without eroding a bit of someone and he won’t

let himself breathe her in.

He knows she would be made of salt.

So instead she splays herself with us at the ocean’s edge.

He returns to the hole where men drink and trust

there are others beside them in the dark.

In the morning when we return

the hole has lost integrity,

has been weathered and stripped and filled

so the boys set to work

again digging

until it’s deeper, the walls smooth

With seats built into the tightly packed sand for rest when needed.

It can be exhausting there.

It’s like this every year. Another girl has a story she tells always

of a boy she knew who dug a hole,

hit an air pocket and it collapsed

around him, buried.

We watch our boys each year

dig and we laugh with them

and we worry — inside mostly,

so they won’t send us away.

We follow them into their hole and hold

their shovels when they need to drink or sit.

We breathe on their necks,

pretending it’s an accident,

to let them know we’re there.

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