Beach Walk

Henri Cole

I found a baby shark on the beach.
Seagulls had eaten his eyes. His throat was bleeding.
Lying on shell and sand, he looked smaller than he was.
The ocean had scraped his insides clean.
When I poked his stomach, darkness rose up in him,
like black water. Later, I saw a boy,
aroused and elated, beckoning from a dune.
Like me, he was alone. Something tumbled between us—
not quite emotion. I could see the pink
interior flesh of his eyes. "I got lost. Where am I?"
he asked, like a debt owed to death.
I was pressing my face to its spear-hafts.
We fall, we fell, we are falling. Nothing mitigates it.
The dark embryo bares its teeth and we move on.
Reprinted from Blackbird and Wolf © 2007 by Henri Cole, by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Learn more about FSG poets at

Poems by This Author

Birthday by Henri Cole
Cherry Blossom Storm by Henri Cole
Draping my body in the usual sterile manner
Embers by Henri Cole
Gravity and Center by Henri Cole
Iím sorry I cannot say I love you when you say
Green Shade by Henri Cole
With my head on his spotted back
Homosexuality by Henri Cole
First I saw the round bill, like a bud
Oil & Steel by Henri Cole
My father lived in a dirty dish mausoleum
Olympia by Henri Cole
Tired, hungry, hot, I climbed the steep slope
Poppies by Henri Cole
Waking from comalike sleep, I saw the poppies
Sycamores by Henri Cole
The Boat-Header by Henri Cole
I saw you
To Sleep by Henri Cole
Then out of the darkness leapt a bare hand
War Rug by Henri Cole
The pony and the deer are trapped by tanks,

Further Reading

Related Poems
by Peter Makuck
Two Minus One
by Gregory Sherl
Beach Poems
that they were at the beach [excerpt]
by Leslie Scalapino
Beach Glass
by Amy Clampitt
Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold
Fabliau of Florida
by Wallace Stevens
On the Beach at Night Alone
by Walt Whitman
The Walrus and the Carpenter
by Lewis Carroll
Toothpaste Kids Sunburn
by Jordan Davis
With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach
by William Stafford
Poems about Sharks
Angel Shark
by Hailey Leithauser
Ants and Sharks
by Tomasz Růzycki
by Ernest Hilbert
At Shark Reef Sanctuary
by Eva Alice Counsell
Coffee and Oranges
by Joel Brouwer
Flying Fish: An Ode [excerpt]
by Charles Wharton Stork
Haunted Seas
by Cale Young Rice
I Wonder What It Feels Like to be Drowned?
by Robert Graves
In a Breath
by Carl Sandburg
Inheritance of Waterfalls and Sharks
by MartŪn Espada
Murray Dreaming
by Stephen Edgar
No Place Like Home
by Stephen Cushman
Ode on Dictionaries
by Barbara Hamby
Plague of Dead Sharks
by Alan Dugan
by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Seal Lullaby
by Rudyard Kipling
Sharks in the Rivers
by Ada Limůn
Sharks' Teeth
by Kay Ryan
Shoal of Sharks
by Richard O'Connell
Song of the Paddlers [excerpt]
by Herman Melville
Submarine Mountains
by Cale Young Rice
Summer [excerpt]
by James Thomson
The Bluefish
by Isaac McLellan
The Maldive Shark
by Herman Melville
The Ripple Effect
by Jamey Dunham
The Sea is History
by Derek Walcott
The Shark
by Isaac McLellan
The Shark
by William Henry Venable
The Shark
by Judith Beveridge
The Shark
by Lord Alfred Douglas
The Shark's Parlor
by James Dickey
The Sharks
by Denise Levertov
The Sirens
by James Russell Lowell
The Steel Rippers
by Patricia Carlin
Tiger Shark
by Hailey Leithauser
Untitled [There, by the crescent moon, the shark]
by Shido
Upon Shark
by Robert Herrick
What To Do About Sharks
by Vivian Shipley
White Sales
by Allen Grossman
World Below the Brine
by Walt Whitman