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.