Sand Cake

By Lisa Reily

My birthday cake drowns in the foam, its stick-candles
and pretty shells swept away by the sea. I watch

from my sandy fortress, legs splashed by the salty surge.
My father lovingly rebuilds the castle walls, stolen

by the endless pull of water. Pink spade in hand, he digs
the moat again and again, to capture each summer wave.

His eyes smile from his young face; his hair is crisp with salt.

Amid the sea’s tumble and whisk of cake ingredients,
I long to eat the brown sugar sand, and years later, in Greece,

I feel its gritty texture against my teeth: sesame halva.
I taste its sandy sweetness and remember

wet sand, a pink plastic spade, and my father;
he digs a moat around me and I am surrounded by water,

a deep channel that, now, he will never cross.

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