When you were six months, finally old enough
for sunscreen, we played on the beach all day. We all
got burnt, except for you. The white cream caked
in your scalp like vernix, flecked with blood-brown sand.
Try as we might, the sea water wouldn't wash
the earth away from your body until it all
wore off on its own, leaving you bare,
vulnerable to the burning light.
We were very careful to reapply
every hour, until the earth itself
turned around to shield your shell-pink skin.
The light grew softer, colder, then was gone.
That's when we bundled you up and took you home,
back to the city with all its safer lights.
Julia A. Carney
21 hours ago