On the Beach, 4:45 A.M.

She sprints, bare toes digging into the wet sand, tightened arches scooping and scattering behind her the crumbling clumps. The footprints she leaves don’t even resemble something made by a human. They are indistinct. Hollowed cups of emptiness, a spectral moonlight reflected palely in the emerging moisture. Even Crusoe would pass them, disregarding, uncaring.

The stick darts and scratches, a shape in the sand is formed. She looks at it, imprints it upon memory, eradicates it with another slash of the stick as a wave crests further down the beach and crashes over the waterline. In the gloom beyond, the tide is coming in.

She covers her feet with sand, sits and enjoys the otherworldly feel of the gluey hardpack encasing her flesh. She wriggles her toes. Stuck fast, rooted, buried. So much finely distributed weight bearing down upon them. She imagines what it would feel like to hide herself entirely beneath the cool murk of the sand and, for a moment only, she is there, in the indissoluble darkness of a grainy sepulcher — feels it surrounding her, pressing in upon her from all sides, senses the first lick of the tide washing in, so gingerly, above her. She shivers, smiles.

And then, on the still horizon: the diffused ascent of the first pink sheen of day, the dwindling spangle of Venus.

Black and white photograph of ripples and a footprint in beach sand.

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