by Susanna Lang
It was a failed crossing. Only his torso was found, ribs
and what lay above and below the bone: heart and the other
organs, muscles across the chest and groin. Just that much
of a man washed up on the beach. The skin heavy and white
as marble—a miracle that this body could fly at all. So many
have risked the currents, air or water. On another beach
a toddler, face down in the lace-edged tide, red shirt
and sneakers that someone knotted that morning. What if it were
my son, nails gritty with sand and hair slicked back by the sea?
A woman kneels, hammer in one hand, chisel in the other,
searching for the form buried within the marble: torso
of a young man, unmarred but inert. He fell; everyone knows
the story. He’d wanted everything, as every boy does.
The sculptor has felt that desire, has been tempted
as he was by the heat that stripped his arms of feathers,
but she has never had to wait, unknowing, the sky a bowl
that has been scrubbed too clean, while he launched himself
from his high wall, only to find a hard landing on this empty beach.
It was dawn. A light wind feathered his arms as he rose
into the welcoming air, never doubting that it would carry him
home, to the arms that waited to draw him close and then
release him into the rest of his life, that expanding vista.