Still half drunk, we make our way to the rocky beach
Tossed in foam, harried by a storm off to the North.
The afternoon stretches out empty, a Thursday on holiday,
scent of whiskey in the waves, of running
out of things to say. When the seabirds make their appearance,
hovering over the cliff’s lip, time stopped in their plane of sky,
their small adjustments of feathers and wing so as to remain,
I can’t detect. The small requires a different kind of attention:
raptness, vision described in bird language, eagle-eyed, sharp as a hawk.
I can list the names of seabirds: gulls, terns, cormorants, the albatross,
but I’m playing at identification, only knowing names, not qualities,
and my words get muffled in damp like that sea cave we found
to make love in, the floor littered with shells and bottles,
our passion less eager than our desire to avoid injury. Leaving it behind,
always leaving to go somewhere, to that bar, that street, that café,
as though one will provide the piece of ourselves we can’t find.
I’m so tired. Maybe I could become the seabirds’
imperceptible stilling, holding onto a quiet I’ve made,
the air pooling around me in a circle. Maybe I could rest in the faint wind,
bare as a rock, making the smallest adjustments—alula, angle of centreline,
content to go nowhere.
Meghan Sterling is a writer and writing teacher who lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and cat. Sterling’s work has been featured or is forthcoming in Red Paint Hill, Fredericksburg Art and Literary Review, Cahoodaloodaling, Enclave, Chagrin River Review, Cladesong, Clementine Poetry Journal, the Chronogram, Yellow Chair Review and others.