A girl ten or eleven years old
Sits by herself on the nearly deserted beach
Tangled straw-blond hair
Falling to her shoulders
Her knees hugged against her chest
As she sifts with fingers and toes
The sand and pebbles beneath her.
From time to time
She picks up a stone, a shell
A bit of driftwood
Examines it for a moment then
Throws it out toward the lackadaisical waves.
The bicycle she rode to this small cove waits
Patient as a loyal old horse
Back where the hard-packed path
Merges with the soft sand.
Seeing her here on her own I realize
How rare it is these days
To encounter a child
Unplugged and unscheduled, solitary and still
Choosing the companionship of ocean and sky
On a summer afternoon.
And so I am heartened
By the young girl’s presence in this place
By her ease and self-possession
And by how tenderly her solitude
Has wrapped its arms about her
As she gazes far out over the great gray sea.
By Buff Whitman-Bradley
Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Front Range Review, Hawai’i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday, Watershed Review, and others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.