By Jane Shore
My sister is doing her exercises,
working out in my husband's study.
The rowing machine sighs deeply with every stroke,
heavy breathing, like a couple making love.
Even my humming can't shut it out.
She's visiting from Iowa
where the cold weather is much worse.
When she was ten, I'd hear her
strumming her guitar through the bedroom wall.
She'd borrow my albums—my Joan Baez, my Dylan—
and sing along,
shutting me out, drawing me in;
imitating my hair, my clothes,
I used to feel sorry for her
for being eight years younger.
She opens the door a crack, and surfaces
in earphones and pink bikini panties
and a lover's torn T-shirt.
Strapped to her hands are the weights
that weighed her suitcase down.
Her thighs are tight, her body
shining like a trophy.
The night she arrived, we sprawled on my bed,
her cosmetic bag spilled open
and she shadowed my eyelids violet,
demonstrating the latest tricks—
the way I used to make her up
on those nights she watched me dress for dates
—her glamorous older sister—
watched me slip into my miniskirt,
my sandals, my love beads
Now, she's no longer in love
with me, and eyes me pityingly,
triumphant—her expression the same as mine
when I watched my mother
examine her face in the magnifying mirror.
She's got to keep in shape.
She's a performer, it's her business
to look beautiful every night.
Sometimes, when she begins to sing,
men in the audience fall in love.
She's warming up in the shower;
the tile walls amplify her voice,
safe, for once, under temperate rain.
Everyone used to say I was a hard act to follow.
A hand-me-down dress
passed from sister to sister,
one body will inherit
what the other has outgrown.
Any day that is spent entirely within a mile of the shore is a good day in my book. We got up very early Tuesday because our room faces east and the ocean, so the sunrise over the Atlantic sent light even through the heavy curtain. Looking out the window, we saw dolphins jumping just offshore! They appeared sporadically throughout the early morning and while we ate at the hotel breakfast buffet, though by the time we went out to swim, they had swum off. There were pelicans diving to grab fish and the usual gulls and crabs.
Younger son got a bodyboard on Monday evening, and Tuesday morning we tried it out. By Tuesday at lunchtime we had decided we each needed one, and we took them into the water in the late afternoon. Why in all the years I have been going to the beach did I never try one of these before? The waves were somewhat larger late Tuesday and there cannot possibly be a more relaxing way to enjoy them than floating over them on a board without even having to tread water. I love swimming in the ocean, but sometimes I just want to lounge and surf in without effort, and these are fabulous -- apaulled got one with a pirate skull, while mine has a pink lizard and flowers, hee.
In between these beach visits we went to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which we knew had an extensive salt marsh and local wildlife pavilion but we did not know had visiting African penguins. We arrived to see an enormous inflatable penguin out front and went in to discover that, while a big section of the aquarium is undergoing renovations that have required moving the permanent ray tank, there was a new exhibit with six penguins and all sorts of activities about their food, eggs and habitat. There was some thunder while we walked on the trail through the salt marsh, looking at crabs, birds and turtles, and we were afraid the weather would turn but it had cleared completely by the time we left.
Bottlenose dolphins leaping a few yards offshore, seen from the balcony of our hotel room.
And shortly afterward, a flock of pelicans at the same spot.
Fiddler crabs in the marsh beside the aquarium, where there are many pine trees with roots they seem to favor...
...and turtles in the water with the reflections of sky and trees.
In the aviary section, a yellow-crowned night heron contemplates crossing the mud in search of food.
Paul is being eaten by a shark. Adam is unconcerned.
Daniel and Adam at one of the interactive exhibits.
This one involves cameras studying snakes.
These, of course, are not native Delmarva/Chesapeake Bay birds, but Adam insists that penguins could live all over North America since they cover a wide variety of climates in South America, so here they are.
And here he is beside the giant inflatable penguin.
In the evening we went to George’s Breakfast & Seafood Buffet, where I ate far, far too much salmon, crab, stuffed flounder and shrimp plus dessert. Our original plan had been to go to a free production of The Tempest at the historic Coast Guard station on the beach, but the kids had been so late getting off the beach that it was already well underway by the time we got there, so we watched a bit (nice costumes, good Prospero, some overacting from what I saw of Miranda and Ariel), then walked back to our hotel up the beach. Haven't seen any ghost crabs; I don't know if it hasn't been dark enough or if they need bigger dunes than Virginia Beach provides.