What Is Swept Away

I make coffee. She watches Little Mermaid.
No one else is up at ten-to-six. It’s low tide now
I say. Let’s go to the beach and look
for last night’s treasure.

Pacific Ocean waves chant like monks at dawn,
Let there… be light. Fog and sunrise.
Tops of fir trees ranged like guardians
beyond the shrouded beachfront town
still sleeping.

Yesterday has been erased. The drama
will start over without fail, seagulls
hovered overhead, all-ages volleyball,
sand castles, salt-water taffy, lemonade.

She came to us two months ago, age 12,
a foster child — arrest of mother’s boyfriend,
cell phone, pc hard drive seized.

This will be her first day
standing at the cusp of the wide open
ocean, something like a future.

I wonder if the people standing on this beach
500 years ago I say to her saw exactly
what we’re seeing now. She’s silent
longer than I think a 12-year-old can be.

She turns away and toes a clamshell
peeking out from gray-brown sodden sand.
She says I never wonder anything.

Leland Seese’s poems appear in Juked, Rust+Stars, The South Carolina Review, The MacGuffin, and many other journals. His debut chapbook, “Wherever This All Ends,” was published in March (Kelsay Books). He and his wife live in Seattle with a revolving cast of foster, adopted, and bio children.