The women pile under the pier
for cheese and crackers, a bottle
of wine sweating on the railing’s
edge as the last of the skiers
races along the water.
The sun sends golden bars across
the sky, forgiving any age, any pain,
and they are still girls, laughing,
though they are mothers and wives,
what they wanted hung in a closet
years ago with every other foolish thought.
Their time is not their own,
even the women who talk big and find
a way to read the big books and see
the big sights.
Except when everyone is on the water,
no one asking to be watched or held,
no one needing kisses or his hair
to be brushed, his face wiped clean,
a tending so endless it either lifts
or crushes the spirit within them.
The boat glides in and energies shift,
they unfold themselves like horses
standing to greet us at the end of the dock,
the pier long and thin behind them.
We need their praise,
their congratulations, we the children
and the men who have been off playing
so that we may come home and be told
that we are wonderful, champions,
too good to be true.
I wonder if they know
of the power they possess,
that we would follow them
into a burning sea or walk barefoot
over glass, just to never lose them,
to always find them there in the shade,
smiling, all teeth and tanned arms, waving,
too young to ever die.