The Gamekeeper’s Lament
God’s invasion has begun: out in the sound, all manner of birds tear south in swathes. Above rough surf, a squad of pelicans cruises shadowlike, brant, in a line, swing inland toward shallow marsh scruff. A rabbit tilts his thin ears like radar against the summer and the moonlight. My faith exists just above a wisp and my body even closer— a drawn out lingering of warmth before a storm, a silence at the center where a kernel of sand begins. The inked ghosts of poachers troll the inlets awake: an explosive thrum of fowl— all spirits, angels, and dead from what must feel like a million winters against the grave. We’re all awake in ways unknown, our eyes (goose, outlaw, rabbit) all rising blue and gray from old sandbars and damned islands. The hesitant squeak of an oar, the stuttering hisses of torn kite wings caught by a fence: every last thing is an omen overwhelming my spectral breath, the raw concentrics my listening unencumbers. In one bolt, my blind eye and my good eye (my bad, as I’d say in mixed company) become not ghost-flesh, but quite suddenly present and rotting. Even the sweet nub of cigar I’d been nursing when I keeled in the boat’s muddy bottom as my body drove my skull into the steel of the boat’s lip—it reddens, burns into currents. The bruises ring back (a sunrise behind me to match) and the feeling in my feet creeps forward until surely I am walking, dripping from inside the sound to see the dunes like wings buckling in the wet heat. God, this has all come on so soon—one sin from hell, one deed from heaven: the path I’ve seen only yards of sinks away into western darkness and never doubles back.