The swell foams where they float and crawl,
A catherine-wheel of arm and hand.
Each head bobs curtly as a football.
The yelps are faint here on the strand.
No milk-limbed Venus ever rose
Miraculous on this western shore;
A pirate queen in battle clothes
Is our sterner myth. The breakers pour
Themselves into themselves, the years
Shuttle through space invisibly.
Where crests unfurl like creamy beer
The queen's clothes melt into the sea
And generations sighing in
The salt suds where the wave has crashed
Labour in fear of flesh and sin
For the thime has been accomplished
As through the swallows in swimsuits,
Brown-legged, smooth-shouldered and bare-backed
They wade ashore with skips and shouts.
So Venus comes, matter-of-fact.
Seamus Heaney, "Girls Bathing, Galway 1965" from Door into the Dark. Used by permission of Faber & Faber. All rights reserved.