Beach at Portici (The Beach Dwellers)
The midday sun flattens and beats
the shore-dwellers into hot-white stasis;
above the empty flagstaff,
leaden flecks in the efflorescent clouds
promise a rainstorm
to the sea-bathers below.
An ancient watchtower
crumbles into the dark sands,
persisting stairs now home to
verdant salt-nourished moss
and adonic sunbathing nudes.
In the soft impression
of an iridescent earthen oasis
lounge the sentinels of the shore—
reverse sirens of Sirenum scopuli.
They’ll not let the aquanauts stray from the shallows.
The pastel ladies, coifs and coils
burnished to bright copper,
poise with needlepoint and parasol.
Corseted by the heat, sweat runs through
sailcloth petticoats and stockings.
One shades her eyes with a pale hand—
her hat nor parasol will do for the task.
Concealed among the strokes
of siccative oil and pigment,
children pick flowers—once tyrian silk,
now faded to soft pink by the bleaching sun.
The rumpled parasol lady steals
a long glance to the unbound waters
past the soil-sands, shielded by her shading hand,
and weaves a strategy to continue
her sirenic calling where the brave seafarers
are haloed with fizzling sea foam
and bodies are freed from encasing civility.