Storm-worn cabins cling to the edge of a shallow bay on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Their pale gray clapboard and faintly rosy roofs stand out in counterpoint against the dappled greens of the firs and maples behind them. Whiskey Creek rushes in a cold tannin-brown stream off the hillside and fans out into the smooth grey rocks of the beach.

At low tide, my parents and I wander, together or contentedly alone, along the fecund shore. Over the years we’ve worn on each other, but the tough and resilient structure of our love permeates this rare weekend together.

As I step over a tide pool my foot dislodges a rock, crushing the crabs and snails beneath it. I’ve altered an unknown course of events in an unknowable way. The rest go on. Little brown crabs scuttle across the sand. Tiny snails crawl among seaweed fronds.

While walking alone on the beach, my mother fell. When she rejoined us, she said, “I think I broke my collarbone.”

My father took her to the hospital, an hour’s drive away. He grumbled to me with a kind of affectionate concern, “You know she’s always looking at other things and not what’s under her feet.” Still, after all their years together, the mystery of her fascinates him. Night falls as I wait for their return. Outside in the dark, the high tide washes the rocks up and down on the beach, a steady pulsing in the night.

Judith Yarrow has been published in various literary journals and her poems were included in the Washington State Poet Laureates’ 2014 and 2017 collections. She lives in Seattle, Washington, where she gardens, walks, and believes kindness is crucial in all cases.