Issue #8

Sleeping Swimmers

Sleeping soundly after swimming, two children
rest under sunburst towels, trenches dug
by their feet drown in the grasping tide.
Strangers sit mere feet away and wonder
at the sight, towels shadowing
everything but feet in an attempt to mask
pre-pubescent flesh from prying eyes.
No authority figures it necessary
to collect these muted figures, fresh with sea-water;
slick, sticky hair clotted with sand and salt,
lips frozen by brine. Shouts of laughter
falter, stumble, become screams of
seabirds, echoing a lament that starts when
their parents are presented with blanched skin and grimy faces
on cold, hard tables, hours after they were supposed to be home.
This picture causes waves to break over Europe:
Roma children abandoned on a beach,
un-moved emergency services too busy for the five hours
they are lying stationary.
While they are left they feature not just in news photographs
but hundreds of holiday snaps and home movies;
crabs scuttle freely across freshly laid-out bodies
mummified under towelling sheets
whilst sand sucks moisture out of tiny forms.
Paramedics thought it prudent to stop, seeing as
it was such a nice afternoon, leaving lunch after espresso
and sauntering to the seaside
to end the hurried wake given for two girls who
rejected the sea-bed, but sleep on the shore.

Daniel Turner