The sun can rise without a prompt.
But I, prompted by the sun, have risen
earlier than I’d intended, dutifully,
to labor on the day declared labor-free
in celebration of summer’s end.
I’m collecting from blackened sand
spent cartridges and fireworks scraps
we’d failed to find the night before
--before the wind corralled storm clouds
and blew up a flashy rodeo
More readily than our meager display
of rockets and Roman candles we’d
bought out-of-state, illegally.
A few were quite spectacular; they popped and fizzed white brilliances,
or whistled, shrieked, even parachuted
green-glowing troopers to the beach,
where now I fill a Wal-Mart sack
with duds and other bits of Silver
Streaks, Gold Dusts, and Flying Jacks.
The other early signs of life
are isolated cirrus sheep
unloosed in bluest pastures to the west grazing with irreverence. That is,
until the morning duly breaks:
I’m two great leaps, two splashes
and a yip, the neighbor’s waggish
coffee-colored Labrador crashes
through the surface calm, shatters
The smooth, green-algaed foam
left from the late night revelry.
Forty yards offshore—at least—a yellow
plastic moon’s afloat; and down the beach
a boy, leash in left hand, salutes
his right, then sights the fetch,
shouts, “Thor! Bring it back here!”
I’ve retrieved the worst of what I
think is ours—blunt nose cones, hard
cardboard hives, devil’s cakes, Black Cat
Packs—and still so much remains,
so many shreds and smatterings, so many
pulpy paper spores near the water’s edge—
Where Thor, well-praised, now snorts and shakes, then lopes toward me
too casually. His tongue is proud.
But his wet, frothy, matted coat,
thick with sand and seaweed grit, smells
faintly at fist, of gasoline,
then reeks with the fishy stench
that’s washed up onto shore.