After a While, You Win: Death Pastoral

Someone else’s child, not you, is running and running
down the beach. Both feet dig into the burning sand.
Two others heave one yellow bucket full of sugar-brown
seaweed, their twin suits flowering

a conflation of pink over blue behind the water. So
landmark cactus and landmine rock battlefield uphill toward
the early moon’s white horse head and each wave collapses to your
right, unsettles, shouting every half minute: have me, shhhh,
have me, shhhh, halve me, shhhh ... its rising fulcrum swell roar
labors — up, down, there, gone, up, down, — 
interrogates the island body island floating
   this ghost-wardrobe-ocean.

There are ways one can look, squint into the idyll light, see
nothing exists between its shimmering fractions.
Not even you. Especially not you, the daughter. Your tulip-gasp face
rising from the heat, turned sideways, looking
for her amidst too many bodies, calling for her,
“Mom,” “Mom!” “Mother,” “Mother!” “Mom!” all other
bodies thrown and going on without you, the bodies a testimony
to being bodies relative to desire on the decomposing sand, or laid
out on the table in the room, marked out on the glass atlas,
laid out under the god sun where “Marcia!” is the only
name above ground she would recognize.

More Poems by Elena Karina Byrne