I could be you, I say
to the gull four feet away on the sand, on the crushed shells, the body-houses, broken,
and the foam licking, sighing…
The ocean grinds its innards, which spread
beneath the fans of the gull’s two feet, beneath the flat of my palm,
and the sky spreads itself above us,
facing into the wind, cleaves it,
pivots on her fine legs like a weathervane while she
tucks and retucks her beak beneath her wing.
And I long to touch her as the wind does, lifting
the feathers on the back of her neck, separately, like papers
blown out to sea.
Her eye a wet stone,
her eye a deep opening,
and the sky a single slab above us.
I could have entered as you entered, splitting the spray.
There. Just a few feet away, neck twisting, eyeing it all
from the ledge of my back.
And now preening, releasing
a bit of down, which glides across the sand and
catches on the pushed-up trail of debris,
the wandering line between
the swept-clear and the reclaimed, death
on neither and both sides, the feather snagging, the wind cupping and
dropping it, putting it
between my two fingers.
My hand lifts, touches to my lips
the cloud-white debris
and it is, for a vanishing moment, warm,
releasing its heat like the earth into space,
like the stars, their light steadily
breaking against a great