I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight
left in my system, and I hope this trip is it. – Amelia Earhart
There is no more flight left – not even a drowning.
I have prayed to follow the albatross, who never lands
on earth but passes alone in the washed currents
where not even God bothers to look. But I’m no albatross –
merely a weka, cursed with uneasy pins that fail to rise.
The sun has set at noon, an illusion without mercy.
We starve for lack of time, but this is our inheritance,
from wet babies to wrecks in steel bed-frames.
A white gull swoops low, stretches like a scythe.
His round eyes glimmer; perhaps they reflect this
twisted scarf of a woman, pale with thirst and sand.
His wings won’t carry me when I am finished here.
My sad companion has faded among the tree shadows,
yesterday I think – perhaps before. He left his water jar
beside the fire-circle, where matches and stories flared
for awhile, then sputtered out. The last light is gone now.
I have no watch, no hours tied around my hair like bandages.
The bird and I both understand there is small distinction
between this moment and the next one. That it is no different
to have died this morning or ten thousand years ago.
There’s the same unknowing; the same empty braincase
that rolls around the beach until it stops with eye-holes fixed
on nothing much. Just endless turquoise I don’t see anymore,
and a smoke-smudge hanging on the curve of the world.
The gull laughs with accidental cruelty. A toothpaste-dollop
drops at my right elbow. Night of the Guano, I mutter. Great title
for my book, if I live to write one. But that might be hard,
as I have broken two fingers. They’ll detach themselves
in the endless winds that clean all corpses here – fish, seals,
rays, turtles. Me too, I suppose. I want to be buried whole, but
there’s this new matter of phalanxes marching over the dunes.
An albatross wouldn’t care about that. My white bird might
(he could pick me to pieces, bit by bit). He’s probably carnivorous;
we all are, under the sweet milk of our skins. Anyone – you, me –
would steal a finger when nobody’s watching. Except God, who
keeps his distance as I sleep. Tomorrow I will surprise Him,
awaken as Electra, maimed and gorgeous. Stroll past tide
pools where my teeth shine in mirrors, down to the sea.
Our Lady of the White Bird, crowned with foam. But Lord,
let me keep my hands. Leave me easier to reassemble.