To understand the texture of sunlight she watches the gull
dip its bill into the opened chamber of a crab. It mauls
the meat into droplets, rich with rot and brine.
She thinks of swimming to a sandbar as a girl, the corset
of breath when the ocean floor dropped away, the burn
in her arms, the bewildered laugh when suddenly she could stand.
A crab ached into cobalt and jade. She thought she’d made
the thing scuttle, when she kicked the waves, off the edge
toward the deep, the way she’d felt herself fall some nights,
in sleep. Nothing to do but swim, she dove back in the gap
of sea and muscled to the beach, where waves threw her
in an exhausted heap. She counted the blue crab’s
cracked and whitened legs, the carapace. Curled into a husk,
thumb and finger cramped into a V, she felt her mother’s hand
pecking at her tempered back reminding her to stay awake,
while Sand Pipers twittered among the fragile, emptied shells.