Boy on the Beach

Left arm cradled in the right, he hobbled
from a crumpled beach towel
beneath a swaying coconut palm
on Waikiki Beach. A crown of blonde dreadlocks
hung in disarray, sun-dried wisps
floating in the humid tropical breeze. Reed-thin
ribs poked through tanned, weather-leathered skin.
Tattered denim knee-length jeans
hung on hip bones. Left leg trailing
sideways, leaving rippled sand wakes in his path,
he lumbered through the doorway
of a beachside bathroom.
A surfing accident turned nasty?
An injured vet forgotten?

Downcast eyes glancing at no one,
he returned to collect his towel,
folded it into quarters,
tucked it under his arm,
turned down the alleyway to…

Walking with purpose to catch up,
flip-flops slap, slap, slapping,
a redhead in a Hilo Hattie halter dress
pressed his limp hand into hers,
palmed him a twenty.
Deep-set, pale grey-blue eyes
lit up like a 60-watt bulb,
as a single tear slid down his cheek.
Smiling from ear to ear,
he choked out a raspy,
“Thank you.”

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.