at spring tide, the storm washed the beach
back to the dunes, swept up tire tracks,
recast the sand into ocean bottom.
the beginning of cycles.
seed-heavy sea oats strut the dunes
waiting for the harvester wind.
winds lift waves, currents push,
undertow pulls, into and out of sync,
as waves cross and cover each other.
seeds wander into footprints,
cling to waves of sand.
settle in creases.
I jump out on top of the swell,
am lifted over the tow,
flipped eight feet in water,
and crash into crushed shell.
in dark, crabs wait for us to pass.
the sun beats clouds out of the sea.
coming in, the spring tide pulls the beach out,
cliffs stand where sand lay sloping.
the storm surge hides life.
gulls tread wind.
a haze connects sea and sky.
an inch of a crab scurries into its den,
as waves toss sand and shell,
rearrange his beach.
it jumps out.
a white relic of the ocean,
a corner of a cooler.
sanderlings scoot after morsels.
kelp and sargasso clump on the shore.
billows of white water halo the sea.
sand ridges against a post
gray with water and sun.
in lulls between dunes, mosquitos cover
ankles, knees, wrists, necks.
blip, the beacon marks
the night for sailors, blip.
sand settles in the crotches of suits.
sea oats bend and flail.
winds hurl sand down the beach, shards
on the rim of tire ruts perch on columns
my foot’s festering scrape scored
running on shells.
water opens like a fan.
a light bulb, whiskey bottle, a trap’s green
glass globe of a buoy,
a frisbee, the foam of a seat cushion.
as jets skirt the coastline,
gulls fly in formation.
two fresh crab legs abandoned on the strand.
the sun slips
through my skin.
surf rushes up cliffs, sprays backward.
sand crags collapse.
wings spread, feathers splayed, buried
head first, a gull’s feet stick up
salt films windows.
gusts lift wooden chairs.
telephone poles stride down the bank
into the haze.
surf water churned full of sand,
seaweed and trash.
tide pools sink.
the skeleton of a chaise lounge does not
face the path through the dunes.
stilt sandpipers read the shore.
waves cross, lift each other up,
roll each other down.
a section of plywood and a plank
east of dunes are the shadows of sunset.
waves outweigh me,
push me around.
nipples twinge with salt.
as tide flows out
shell pop out of sand.
blood adopts the sea’s pulse.
Copyright James Phoenix 2017