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Ladder

I walked down to the shore this morning,
              sun still low on the sea;
another had been there before me,
              making tracks
that made straight for the waves.

Brown pelicans came with their ripples and ribbons;
              sanderlings and sandpipers
kept darting, drilling the sand; under a breaker
              a conch lay broken and blazing,
a ladder curving back to the deep.

A pair of burred pufferfish, hides starred and striped,
              were curing to tanned leather,
lips and eyes sewn tight in the glare.
              Then a four-wheel came, and exhaust
and dark clouds swept the ocean away,

leaving only the sun at my feet,
              following the swells in and out,
each step
              stamping a small fire in the wet,
the burn of the surf too bright now to face.