Cosimo and Enzo Zanone

Cosimo’s head – and only his head – poked out of the pillowy white sand. In the afternoon onshore winds, the knots in his thick, sun-bleached hair pulled towards the waves. Amidst these winds, dry and carrying dust, Cosimo could easily be mistaken for a beach shrub, with tangled, straw-like branches.

Enzo sat in stillness next to his brother. His narrow, dark legs laid slightly bent in front of him. He gently patted down the sand by Cosimo’s neck, forming a seal around his brother’s collarbone. When swells of wind rolled out onto the beach, blowing sharp sand, Cosimo closed his eyes tightly.

Enzo watched the wrinkle lines form in the corners of his brother’s eyelids. When particles of sand became stuck in the roots of Cosimo’s hair, Enzo tenderly brushed them off with the knuckles of his index finger. He would glance quietly to the waves with cloudy eyes.

Above the beach was a cedar forest. The stringy branches always ruffled and the trunks grew directly from the sand. In July, cicadas flooded the trees and droned throughout the days and nights. From the beach this cacophony could be heard, mingling with the sounds of crystalline waves shattering, with salt spray that dries out in the ear canals, with thudding sun-stroked heartbeats felt at the temples. The fibrous branches stretched from tree to tree, interlocking, so that they formed a dense, fragrant nest, stretching kilometers in every direction.

On the beach, with fingers caught in his brother’s hair, Enzo’s thoughts drifted towards the forest. His brother’s head, and the forest, knotted, facing the winds. He wondered how the forest closed its eyes to shield from the sandstorms, or how many particles of sand cut through the tree trunks and nestled into their hollows. He imagined one day his brother may be full sand. Over time, the sharpest, smallest fragments might pass right through his scalp, to fill his skull. Maybe one day they would be found, Enzo and his brother, a scattering of bones, smoothed and surrounded by this sand. He hoped his spine would grow soft and porous, like siltstone rocks.

Image: Beach Painting (76) by Agostino Veroni. Saatchi Art.