In the evening, sanderlings swoop down on the tideline. They sift through broken shells to feed, beaks dipped in ink, scuttling patterns with their feet across the waterlogged sand. Grey and white, the sunlight strikes verdigris across their feathers, a flock of copper blots blossoming on the waves.
These flourishes, that bob and weave, remind me of the letters you used to send. The generous expanse of your o’s and a’s, as open and wide as the mouth of a shell. Your script stretched across the page like seaweed, ragged and loud, but missing the sun-soaked timbre of your voice. All the intimacies that you folded into an envelope, for me alone, until I sang your words in my head and shaped them on my tongue, as vital and vibrant as salt.
I keep them in a drawer now, would laugh and say, “Oh those old things?”, if anyone was to find them. But I read them in those birds and how they mark the passing years with the beat of a green tinted wing. I search for your face when they rise and palpitate the horizon with the pen marks of their feathers. Sometimes I glimpse it in their movements, the crease of an eye, or the hint of your smile. Then it is gone. They break apart, a cracked font of serif and stem, winging away from me across the endless verso of the sky.
Anne Daly is a writer who lives in Co. Meath, Ireland. Her short fiction and poems have appeared in a number of online and print journals. Her writing has recently featured in The Cormorant, Ellipsis Zine and Janus Literary. She won second place in the Allingham Fiction Prize, 2021. Her debut pamphlet Triptych was published by Alien Buddha Press in April 2022.
Photo – Anne Daly
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