The sand dotted with trash and detritus,
and out over the horizon that first hint of light
betrayed sunrise was coming, the Atlantic
not as wine dark as it had been an hour earlier.
One walks among ruins to remind oneself
that progress is made at any cost. You
had come to the beach late the night before
because a man had promised you
he could walk on water, had promised
to show you this, you doubting Thomas.
You believed his gin-soaked detailing,
believed he could slowly and carefully float out
over water, and you thought he was like you.
But all he did was walk on the sand, earth-bound
and unbalanced. He had neither wings
nor the ability to fly. And when he removed
your shirt and felt the stumps between your
shoulder blades, your wings dormant, buried beneath
your flesh, he wanted to show you every ability he had
except that of flight. People lie. Lessons like these
are always difficult. A reckless sun tilted at the edge
of the horizon, and then the gulls arrived to begin
their studies, their lonely scavenging.
And my small lesson? Human to want the company
of others, and human, too, to find loneliness among them.
appeared originally in Quarterly West