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Walking here in the late afternoon, my feet sank ankle deep in sun-warmed sand. I lie on the thin blanket we used on our bed when we were first married. Beneath me the sand is firm as a mattress. If I were to reach out over the edge of the blanket, I could let it trickle, my hand an hourglass.

Once you gathered shells and arranged them on my back in a mosaic. I lay still until you were satisfied with what you had done. The photo is in the album I keep on the top shelf of the closet. What did you take with you when you left?

I lie face up, listening to the waves breaking. I imagine them rise, sparkling droplets of spray caught and blown back by the wind while the green body of the wave curls and crashes and rushes towards the beach, slows as it reaches the end of its journey, leaves a white spindrift record of itself, then retreats. I count silently, timing the waves, and my breathing slows until I stop counting.

I keep my eyes shut, the world through closed eyes, red and glowing.

(c) 2007 Miriam N. Kotzin. "Undertow" was published in Rumble, Spring, 2007.