Journal of Writing & Environment

Carolina Beach, North Carolina



Walk closer, and the heaped silhouette

sharpens against the sand. You squint

against the falling sun, meet the shape

of feathers and beak and some large

stillness. The pelican lies,


wings bent away like sprung

paperclips, and an undone ocean

wavers back and forth

beneath the body.


The neck, still tan with youth, curls

a fractured question mark.


No fishing line. No net,

no plastic bag, no torn-through flesh

or broken bone.


Only death, and how often enough

it washes its way up. And how

sometimes things die

only because they have

the capacity for it.