The roaring alongside he takes for granted,
and that every so often the world is bound to shake.
He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,
in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.
The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.
—Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.
The world is a mist. And then the world is
minute and vast and clear. The tide
is higher or lower. He couldn’t tell you which.
His beak is focussed; he is preoccupied,
looking for something, something, something.
Poor bird, he is obsessed!
The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray
mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.
I really enjoy Sandpiper by Elizabeth Bishop. When I read it, I feel like I’m at the ocean. Although when I did read it for the first time, I was nude sunbathing in the South Mountain with the April sun settling warmly on me and my surroundings, a scratchy carpet of last year’s twigs and moldering leaves under me and the peeping little new ones (leaves) beginning to unfurl green out of the bark above and all around. A huge black snake recently awake from its winter sleep stopped and stayed still for quite awhile before it went on its way. What a gift to see things where they live. Who doesn’t love the early spring? I wrote the following sonnet then as flies and ants and other bugs walked all over tickling me.
As I’m reading Elizabeth Bishop
an insect starts to crawl on my body.
It’s on my back—What is it?—I can see
the spider on my hand that I blow up
into the air. The ants walk on me like
I have climbed through the forest up the hill
another one, another one until
I’m also a tarmac where flies alight.
If you don’t want this to happen don’t take
off your clothes and lie down in the leaves. Come
what may I’d rather be naked with some
more ants crawling and a spider that make
my skin tickle. To be totally free
let it be. God, the sky is pretty.
(Photos not Elizabeth are of Akram dancing by the Pacific in Oregon.)