Chancellor Florida State Poets Association
Florida Poet Laureate Volusia County
Winner of 2011 American Poet Prize
We leave the beaches for the tourists, mostly
and the history of tourism, a history
of our shadow selves: wing-prints of fallen
angels in shimmering sand, flapping,
flapping – the soul’s earth mapping or
a mating dance. Mouths, an upturned string
of shells opening to a vast and mythical sky.
These are the things they leave behind.
A paddleball court etched in the muddy flats
where a ruddy turnstone makes his nest’s
scrapes, space for a female’s eggs; and
seagulls dive for nacho chips and funnel
cake; and the sanderling’s shrill song is the echo
of a mother’s plea to her children out too deep.
These are the calls we hear in our sleep.
Or, the black-bellied plover’s plaintive call
as he circles the shore for a sandworm
or a crab – or for something, something
to eat – and absently darts toward
a sand castle made from plastic-cup molds
and a child’s empty pail, pink or lime green
or gold. And a wave with a biblical thrust
catches them off guard: a torrent
of coconut oil and ocean spray, a sandal,
a drugstore romance – then the bright, shallow
meadows and plank. Kitsch in a tide’s eternal
crawl and roll and spray. Song and refrain.