White sand, soft as talcum powder,
so different from the coarse grains
of Lake Michigan. Gulf waters glint
and glitter, and my soul keeps time
to waves as they break the shore.
Birds on thin stilts yield a path as I near,
and pelicans overhead cast pterodactyl
shadows. I watch one fold its wings,
become an exclamation point
in a racing dive toward a surprised
fish, then return to the sky with a full
orange grin. I am giddy as a child
watching fireworks, seeing this cartoon
creature—its body borrowed from
a prehistoric time—turn sleek,
powerful, graceful in an instant.
Here there are many reminders
of primordial Earth: an ancient ocean
surrenders its pulverized flora
and fauna. Shell fragments on the shore
hold all the colors of a Florida sunset,
millennia of days ending, hardened into
bone, forged in coral, lavender and pink.
Later in the week I lunch at a revolving
restaurant, fifteen stories high.
Islands lace the intercostals, bend
under the weight of skyscrapers.
A flock of pelicans flies past at eye level,
and suddenly I long for wet sand
between my toes, yearn to be far
from this steel structure with its birds’
eye view, where I can see for miles but
cannot feel a pelican’s shadow, or know
that sunsets are scattered in the sand.
—Cynthia J Lee
Gulf Coast Beach, Florida (16 x 20, Oil, cold wax, sand, charcoal on wood)