William M. Ramsey
The boy said its eyes were open. “But they’re empty, like he’s not at home,” the boy added. He was among the group gathered, at dawn, around a pale body in the foam of the surf. Gulls hovered above in silence, then winged up the strand. It was stiff as a piling, and no one would lift it.
This is what the sea will do, coughing from chaotic depths objects that refuse to stay in it. Things carrying no message, not even a wink, spilling from the heaving surf like a fragment of some cosmic Rosetta stone.
I gazed out as if to see somewhere on the waves a hieroglyphic bird, eye, or sheaf of wheat—some ancient, coded incantation for a soul on its journey. A wind rose, the text changing into white caps. The boy galloped off making hoots.
No one’s ever home, I thought, anywhere on earth. From the pier’s railing a few tourists stared down at the frozen swimmer, and I walked off. A sand crab scuttled toward the dunes, where in a hard breeze sea oats flailed and a paper cup rolled haphazardly. Behind and before me lay the long, scalloped line of sea litter.
a sea shell
the pattern fanning
into a crack