Dunes at Willapa

Where the swale widens to the beach
and dune grass gives way to open sand,
my dogs have exhumed the body
of a harbor seal. Mummified
by wind, black-spotted fur flakes
off skin stretched over brown bones.

I find the pelvis, a femur, and four ribs.
Vertebrae bloom like flowers
on the damp sand. Each in its place,
I lay all that I’ve gathered:
Phalanges still connected by ligaments,
tibia and fibula together, scapula above,
ribs in rows down the spine.

With a driftwood spade, I set to work.
The odor of death blends with the scent
of kelp on the wind, with smoke
from a fire farther up the beach,
with the calls of gulls who hang
suspended in the air. A barrow rises
over the bones, ringed with stones
rolled smooth in the surf. Above,
clouds soar to the curving edge of the earth.

One thought on “Dunes at Willapa

  1. Andrew,

    I’ve just come across your website and took 5 minutes out of my day to read some poetry. I haven’t done that in a very long time so I want to thank you.

    I had forgotten how peaceful it is to let the words wash over me. It’s a beautiful piece and you should be proud of it.



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