Oystercatcher Skull
Sharon Black

It lies on the beach, now and then twitching
in a fluster of salt breeze, facing
the mainland and the iron-chested ferry
that inhales and exhales
tourists all year.

The bone is intricate, thin as sunlight,
mottled with membrane – kelp
or the last hold of flesh, like a grip on the land
before fulmar or weasel
or ocean or wind tore it off.

Its long orange beak could write
on the sand
as it once wrote its life on the sky.
No trace remains
– though you can just make it out
on days when the ferry

can’t make it this far –
when the waters rise up like a wall,
smashing the jetty, when the ocean’s a fist
in the mainland’s soft belly
and prayers go out for us all.