Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
I Kept a Beach Day from 2002


Freshly clicked out of the carseat
you waved your pudgy fist
daring me to investigate

curly fingers hiding grains of sand,
caked like sticky pepper stars &
a seashell
moist against your palm

chipped & rippled with
beige tones graduating into lavender
lovely like a porcelain fan,
(a choking hazard).

The shell imprinted itself
on the map of your tiny clutch,
where you kept it snug;

taking it away would have to be

I sat you by the kitchen window;
noon light illuminated the
inner landscape of your eyes, a mudslide
with graduated slabs
of chocolate—all flavors, like your father’s—

in the center, I saw my reflection
the reasons you held this shell
so protectively:

was it just grip reflex? —Or
had you inherited my compulsion to
constantly force moments into cages
hoarding souvenirs, capturing photos
collecting shells—
endlessly trying to somehow
touch time?

Do you remember how I
bowled my hands under yours,
stole a slurpy kiss
(from the chubby part under your jaw),
overanimated my face, then
swiped the shell
& held it up
like a trophy?

You celebrated with a squeal
overjoyed to discover your treasure
for the first time—all over again
(the way I imagine
second chances must feel).

Up on the window sill, I placed the shell
& you
reached for it with all your weight,
furry lashes fluttering above your
biscuit-cheek profile

I quickly turned the faucet on,
slid your flowered grasp under the stream
and together
we watched bits of our beach day
glide off your skin,
down the drain
within a swirl of sink water &
sweaty sand—
the seashell,
still in my jewelry box today.

Lila Romero holds a master’s degree in communication studies from Purdue University. She uses poetry to honor the truth of life experiences and the resiliency of human spirit. As an emerging creative writer, her poetry and nonfiction can be found in Yellow Chair Review and Elephant Journal. Her poem, “The Flavors of Afghan Food” was selected in the Rock the Chair Poetry Challenge. Lila was born in Guatemala and resides in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and a couple of miniature doxies that run the place.

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How bittersweet. Masterfully paints a picture of how our children take us to heightened levels of awareness.
This is a very touching poem Lila, bringing back great memories of going to the beach with my children and grandchildren when they were tiny. The youngest is now 11 and lives at the beach with us. My house is adrift with sand (a losing battle,) numerous shells and driftwood. I write poems about the sea and other subjects.
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