Elegy for a Dead Seal with Surfers
Wounded, he must have crawled out of the surf
to lie between two boulders, blond and smooth
as his lost brothers. Below the bite,
a stain has soaked his flank's embroidered gold.
I can't help noticing the seabird-emptied sockets,
the frayed black eyelids tasseled like anemones,
and his face sculpted for underwater speed
and for that childlike play among his kind, which serves
two purposes: grace, and hunting practice.
After his war with sharks or killer whales had ended
in his suffering, he turned back to face the sea,
that other, older brother he left reluctantly.
Trudging back up the footpath, lost in dazzle,
I pass men and women clad all in neoprene
with boogie boards tucked beneath their arms
like candy-coated tribal shields. They descend
the last few steps from that airy world above
and emerge into this brilliant afternoon
they've set aside for battle.