After Eugène Louis Boudin, 1824-98
The wind is up:
tossing the gritty sand
into the stamping horses’ eyes.
Dogs circle and yelp
across the wide wet sands
snapping at bladderwrack
as ribbons of her straw hat
whip in the breeze.
She stands a little apart
From the beaux and belles
of Trouville, pretty
under ruffled parasols
their satin hooped crinolines
parachuted by the salty gusts.
For soon this giggling group
will tire of ‘oohs and aahs’
and leave this afternoon’s blowy
mise-en-scène for Monsieur Henri’s
fine cognac, chocolat or café au lait
and she will gather up her loneliness
and black crêpe skirts in handfuls above
the knee, to search the shoreline
for razor shells and tiny crabs hidden
in pools between the damp worm casts
while hissing breakers
roll and slip, spattering her wind-
burnt skin with spots of tangy spray.
From Everything Begins with the Skin
Published by Enitharmon 1995