Mary Arrives at Ocean City after 15 Years


It’s the same in many ways: this
pink building the first hotel she stayed in
with her family even longer ago than 2004.

New shops sprout through the boardwalk
pawning endless flavors of taffy, slices
of pizza with cheese and basil and oily pepperoni.

Photographs captured in front
of nostalgic landmarks, in early June, a minimum
of tourists present. The inevitable tidal wave

of them has not crashed along the coast
yet, with the Bermuda high. Teenagers
rent bikes and an unlikely mixture of ages

pedals surreys down the boardwalk, not as expansive
as when younger and trying to locate
fudge and posters and the taste of parentlessness.

When one is that age, an hourly coat of SPF 4 coconut
oil was the only necessary thing.
The wind now flutters through our clothing, clouds

more than sun, and our long sleeves remain on
as we collect seashells. That’s another thing
that hasn’t changed: a neon plastic pail

of half clamshells, mini conchs and quartz polished by tides.
The redrawn coastline dunes are new
from Superstorm Sandy and endless nor’easters.

It never was this cold or this empty. It never was
this windy during past trips to the coast, when it stretched
for decades. Maybe it died in early August

when the temperature climbed to 90?
There’s a lot of newness here.
Sometimes we cannot tell what that is.