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  • Susanna Lang

The World With Its Relentless Pull

We shed our days, the shiny mornings when we drank espresso

at a sidewalk table painted blue while parents walked their children


and their dogs to school, and the blur of late nights when the phone

rang or the radio announced the numbers we did not want to hear


and we could not make it all compute. We strip off days like clothes

we’ve sweated through, brush off hours like flakes of aging skin


or break them off, sharp-edged fragments left on the sand

like evidence a skunk had eaten all four eggs in the nest, last chance


for a species reduced to 70 nesting pairs. Skunks have to eat too,

and the skunk knows at some cellular level that all our days


are numbered. Unable to see the small opening, my mother asks

for help threading a needle to hem her nightgown, too long now


she’s bowed down toward the earth with its relentless pull. But insists

on stitching the hem herself as the children flock to school and parents


walk their dogs home again, as the shorebirds scrape a new nest

and beat the ground with their feet, a dance of starting over,


over and over again despite the skunks, despite the gulls and herons

that will menace once the chicks have hatched, despite the storms


they’ll fly through when they leave this beach in the fall, driven

to reach their wintering grounds, driven to return next spring


until the spring they do not come back, the sand left blank and empty.



 as published in Gyroscope, Spring 2023

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