I watch my mother wince like copper

in the sun.  She is always in pain, she is

always coated in SPF zero.  Coconut, 

Mai Tai, the Piña Colada scent of her,

the beach of her. Any shore I visit 

runs along her scar, belly button to bikini,

a little gold ring haloes the erosion. 

Greased, gleaming, I keep an eye on her 

from the water, second sand bar, the tow pulls 

me out of her sight, fish on a line, 

I swim back, like a run through a dream. 

Salt burns the back of my throat

when I see her, watch her son die,

watch her leave on the first flight 

to ID him, shuffle my feet for sand dollars.

I hear her retch, her vomit breaks like waves

after every meal for years. ICU, a speck

on the dune, I see her skull broke, 

brain bleed, chapped lip, a towel saturated 

with her, sea anemone, aneurysm,

neck brace tan line. I see her get robbed,

same day, disabled. Bye body, bye jewelry

box, X marks the loss. Wealth watered down 

to social security, an umbrella in the drink. 

Thirsty, careless, a break from the sun beckons

me. I slice myself on a barnacle as I wade in.

A clean, red eel slithers from the arch of my foot,

smells like metal, a penny, my mother.