Aubade for Fernandina Beach

Each morning my body betrays me
a hundred different ways, but still I force it

along the shore as a wanderer, though it wants to slow.

Poor femurs, poor flexors. There is dementia
in your marrow.

You forget you are unbroken; the oath
I’ve made to watch over my own sutured soul.

The dune has transfixed me in its height
and width.  It is impassable.

Just let me crawl back inside the nautilus and

hide from sky, from more funerals.
There against its pearled lip

my own wounds are barely visible.

In my loneliness I bare my belly to the teeth of the sun.
I mark my third eye with a thousand grains of sand

while the tern is suspended above me on a stale, unending wind.

I raise soft castles for my dead.  On this shore
they once gathered scalloped edged shells,

though the tide erased all they built of their own hands

and the force with which they loved me.

How far must I walk to find the house of the dead?
I go to the farthest jetty where mist meets ill shaped stones

and sky is nothing but a grey smear above the water.
There my reluctant body is perched above foam and barnacles.

I call for those who have gone, but no answer follows.

I am among the mourners and not even the rocking
of the sea can bring me solace or rest.

I will stop speaking to those I’ve known who’ve passed

and converse now with you, who are not yet born
of salt and sorrow, of sea oats, this untempered heat of noon.

I imagine you a silver fish forming in my daughter’s womb

and tell you all evidence of me will eventually be gone.
I once basked, not under the eye of God,

but under the wings of a tern.