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)