I  was  going  down the  wooden steps  onto the beach
on  a fine  early spring  day and there  they were
to  meet  me, Bill,  Rach and Elsa,
standing  on the tide-­‐line  waving out.

I  was  wearing  an orange  jacket. Elsa
was  in her  grandpa’s  arms and when  she saw me
coming  out of nowhere  her grin was brilliant
with  recognition  and she held  out her small arms.

In  my arms,  walking back,  it was as if she  was seeing
all  the possibilities  of a beach: the size  of it under the sky,
the  size of  the sky (the  potential in fact  of emptiness), the buoyancy
of  gulls  lighting  up like shells,  the vigour and calling  out of water.

You  seldom  see ‘wild  with joy’ but  she was
jumping  and squealing  for it, her two  small feet
taking  a hold on  my body to fling  herself up
again  and again  into the zing  of the outdoor world.

From The leaf-ride, Victoria University Press, 2011.