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The roaring alongside he takes for granted,

And that every so often the world is bound to shake.

He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,

In a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.

 

The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet

Of interrupting water comes and goes

And glazes over his dark and brittle feet.

He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.

 

– Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them

Where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains

Rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,

He stares at the dragging grains.

 

The world is a mist. And then the world is

Minute and vast and clear. The tide

Is higher or lower. He couldn’t tell you which.

His beak is focussed he is preoccupied,

 

Looking for something, something, something.

Poor bird, he is obsessed!

The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray

Mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.

 

Elizabeth Bishop, The Sandpiper

 

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