The bay’s mouth swells, sucking the gale
and spit into stone lungs, laying
the ground for what the island tells, hoarsely:
before the boats arrive, after the shops shut.


Sand shuffles amiably, like familiar words
stroking and nosing one another, melismatic
chant that slips and pours so quickly
that you never see the razor shell until
you feel grains rubbing the red flesh.


Under the trees, the muttered conversations
of rain on leaves, wood, mast; dreams of pushing through
a restless crowd in this foreign town,
wondering what they suspect, what they fear,
what you look like to their glistening eyes.


Bullets of water in the gray morning,
a lash of rapid pain on the cheek,
sparks from the boiling cloud, water
lifted, water dropped, something dissolving,
not an asperges; maybe, though, friendly fire.


Gulls cry their little sickle sounds
nicking the eardrums, scratching at the sea,
pecking and fishing into the confused sea light
inside, alert for the shine that tells them
where they can hook up something alive.
Breathing out, the long flare of late sun
runs to the horizon, the mouth says hoarsely:
you can tell how high the wind is
by how still the birds hang.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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