Phillips-Beachpic
Requiem in the Sand, 2015
by Karen H. Phillips

Seahorse, I salute and mourn you.
Spiny body spirals regal arches,
          your neck princely.
Buried from my eyes, diminishing tail curls
          beneath powdery beach.
Rage of red tide and storm flung you
          far aground,
stately in death, lost to your salty home.

Eel, I fear and admire you.
Haughty, you arch smooth scales,
          flaunt hideous beauty.
Creature’s neck curves to open mouth,
          rigid in anger at death.
Dagger teeth bare,
          hissing a menace frozen by waves.
Crashing surf abandoned you to fatal sand.

PHOTO: The author enjoys her second favorite beach occupation—devouring a good book (Panama City Beach, Florida , fall, 2015).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Last year’s beach visit inspired this poem. On the same day, while beach walking, my husband and I discovered in separate locations two victims of the recent red tide and turbulent surf: a large seahorse and an even larger eel. There was a tragic air to both figures. I couldn’t get them out of my head. Later, when a prompt given during a poetry workshop evoked a contrast of these two creatures, I wrote my first version of this poem. Feedback from the instructor and my local critique group helped me identify how I wanted to revise and finalize the piece. I hope the reader can identify with the emotions I experienced as I gazed on each of these unique animals, lost to the wildness of their native environment.

Version 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born for beach walking, Karen H. Phillips makes an annual pilgrimage to Panama City Beach, Florida, where she collects photos of wildlife, shells, sunsets, the Gulf, and, of course, her husband. Karen’s nonfiction piece, “The Pie Plate,” is published in an anthology, The Keepsake Project. Her poem, “The Truth about Love,” was recently accepted in an upcoming anthology, Amour.