Treading air above the estuary,
Staring through the membrane of the mute, dead
World below, the white but sanguinary
Tern turns from flight to fall: the painted lead
Dagger of his blood-red bill tips toward
The sea; it pulls him down. He splashes down.
Gravity yearns to see him drown,
But winging hard, he climbs until restored
To open air. Underneath, water rolls,
Unbreathable and alien. He glides
Six feet above the dread frontier he patrols.
Horizon. Line of vanishing. A feathered
Insignificance bears what it has weathered.
Within his mouth, the fish’s twitch subsides.