Late afternoon & flawed sea unfurling Wave on wave, diminishing sun Sculpting copper roads of light on wet sand. Walking, I came upon a beached dolphin Battered by sand & the beaks of gulls. First urged myself to walk on, avoiding Dead things with white bellies mottled Black by wind and talon. Not stare At the zero of its stillness, blood Tugging water washed from a hole In its head, or touch the rubbery beauty Of its lifeless fins, or marvel At the jade serenity gracing its delicate Mouth, the coral hues asleep there. For I have never seen a richer smile On friend or lover’s face than this The gangster of the sea gave back So carelessly to the solar bell Mushrooming on the dark water. A wave came spattering around my ankles, Reminding me that the sea had business Here with one of its own, that no rituals Shrined the reality of drying blood, No Dolphin Father loomed & no songs sounded. I kept walking, day used up, dreaming A human love not of the sea Or its shining casualties, Guided by what seemed An echo of the first unwrinkling stars, Memory beyond memory, a dolphin’s Void & engulfing smile.