On the beach where I live, last Sunday
three children built a man out of sand.
He lay on his back with his arms by his sides,
his feet slightly spread as though he was asleep.
His eyes were made of two round shells.
His lips were the stick from an ice-block.
The tide eyed him like a seagull stalking bread.
He was both alive and dead at the same time.
The first wave touched his arm then
ran to see what he would do next.
The second pulled a finger
but again he did not stir.
The third wave ran between his legs as though
he was an old man pissing himself.
The fourth circled him, taking a layer
of sand equally from his right and
from his left so that he remained the same
shape as before but somehow smaller.
The fifth wave covered him and in between
its small currents moving he seemed to move.
The sixth wave took his lips.
They floated out to sea.
His eyes sank down to the back of his head.
The seventh wave made him look younger.
After the eight wave he was the idea of a man.
The ninth wave wiped him off the beach like a cloth
on a table where children have been eating cake.
The tenth wave would never have known
that he had been there in the first place.
But I still say that he was:
In everything that I remember of him,
In one ice-block stick and two ordinary shells,
In this story which has just been told, and
In ten thousand small pieces of sand sprinkled
widely through a great and restless ocean.