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.