It’s still there. So are my dead parents
in their bathing suits and white terrycloth robes,
trundling their beach bags, chairs, and umbrellas.
The path connects woods to river, connects
the shadowy light shouldering through
swamp maples to the river’s bright, blinding light
where the path opens on a stretch of beach.
The river is there of course as well,
first, in its cadence against the banks
where old trees have given way to erosion,
and then in the honeyed color of clear water
over sand. Around the bend, the voices of children
still discovering turtles and dragonflies.
The water distills the late afternoon light
and the amber current keeps moving
late summer’s first yellow leaves downriver.
In their chairs my parents watch the day slide by.
Sandpipers in flocks of five and six veer in
towards the beach, then away, and cliff swallows
meet their doubles in the river’s mirroring surface.
When my parents gather up their things,
and leave once again on the beach path,
I stay by the river in the prolonged summer light,
listening to their voices fade into a veery’s
ethereal cascade of downward spiraling notes
among the already darkened swamp maples.