Paul VanDerWerf CC
on the car ride home I am quiet
I dig a shark’s tooth
the size of my thumb out
of the sand before the waves
can wash it away. the saltwater
drops sting my eyes and my feet
freeze in the early morning
water, but the sun is starting
to warm us up with its orange
streaks that stretch from behind
the long clouds on the horizon.
I run a long way down the beach
to show you my find. shell
fragments dig into my heels
as I run. I found the tooth using
the ways you taught me as a kid.
you’ll be proud. some sharks leave
their offspring right after they are born,
nothing but their instincts to protect them.
sometimes I wish you would leave me
on this beach to raise myself. I want
to live by my own rules, make my
home among the tides and sleep
in the sand dunes. we need to learn
the art of fossilization, how to pile
and press the sediments of each
good day onto the bad ones
and forgive. instead, we toss them
onto this beach, covered haphazardly
by sand and shells, and we dig them up
with our hands every once in a while.
on the way home I’ll clutch
my treasure, serrated edges digging
into my skin. I remind myself
that you are proud of me as you
berate me, shaking the sand off
of an old argument you dug up
while we were there. I am already
rehearsing my apology in my head.
I don’t know why I am always
the one who says I’m sorry when you
are the one with all those teeth.
reflections on the water and on family
the moon is about 384,000 kilometers
from earth. 9.6 times around
the world, or nearly 120 round
trips to each of our houses. that’s
almost unbelievable, considering
when we look up into the night sky,
it seems as if a particularly tall
building or especially skilled pilot
could scratch the surface. and it’s
the same distance no matter where you are
on earth. when four people look up
at the moon they are seeing past those
same many miles and looking
at the same gray monolith. our moon, god
of the night skies. controller of the tides. it pulls
the waves that we splashed through on the dark
beach ten minutes from my house. there were
four of us. half had never seen the beach
at night before. the moon moved the water
for us while we used its borrowed light
to find shark’s teeth in the freezing sand.
our lanterns barely light the beach. we search
anyways, collecting shells in cheap
plastic buckets. tomorrow they will be packed
into suitcases and our little group will return
to our corners of the country. we will hold each other
tightly while the adults exchange hurried,
cold goodbyes. for every thirteen times
the moon makes its way around the earth, our
family’s orbit falls more off-kilter and every
goodbye feels more like forever. twice a year, the shadow
cast by the earth eclipses the moonlight and for up
to two hours, we are completely blind. in our
collective fear of the dark, the whole family
will join hands. we’ll guide each other when
the time comes. for now, we can see
and us four kids band together despite
our parents’ differences. before departure, we all slip
out onto the balcony of the beach condo. cold
concrete stings my feet and I think “I should
have worn socks” so I don’t have to think “I don’t
want things to fall apart.”it is high tide down below us.
the sky is pale blue and the moon is beginning to show
its silhouette as it climbs.
Isis Hanna is a 9th grade student studying creative writing at Charleston County School of the Arts. She is 15 years old. Her poems tend to include themes of childhood and family.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.