Last day/ 5:30 a.m./ coffee brewing/
some early risers/ the outside world/
shut out for a week/ now knocking on
Forty years/ every other summer/ our
gathering happens/ After the pandemic’s
interruption/ we’re back again.
The sacred ritual/it never changes/
renting the pontoon boat/ Cao Costa
shelling/ Cabbage Key lunch/ And
cutthroat dominoes in between.
corn hole got added /10 years ago.
It’s an extravagant affair/ the bargain
of a lifetime/ Over the years/ kids
have become adults/two marriages followed/
and one grandson was born.
This year the grandson’s girlfriend/ who we already adore/
joined our bi-annual escape.
Today/ we kiss our good fortune/
knowing it /could have been otherwise.
Here time stops/ for seven too short days/
in blistering heat/on kayaks/swimming
with manatees/ long walks/cold beers/
and pesky no see um bites.
Here we confirm/ our identity as family/
and our love of life.
Here we pray/to the gods/
to never let the ritual end.