June 2019

At Seagull Beach
                                    Yarmouth, MA

            by Nausheen Eusef


All morning we combed the beach,
picking our way through its detritus
and keeping the distance between us
that neither was willing to breach.

I watched as you gathered seashells—
pretty things, yes, but cracked husks
once home to some soft-bodied mollusk.
Clams, scallops, oysters, mussels.

“The naked shingles of the world,”
you said. Knives of sunlight diced
the waves. Bitter words had passed,
as cold as the water that curled

at our feet. Pebbles of shale and quartz,
damp and mineral-stained, nestled
meekly in the sand. Once they bristled
molten and livid. They did not ask

to be thrust into the years, sun-beaten,
wave-battered, wind-driven beyond
human accounting—until they found
their way here. Like us from Eden.

We require no grand gesture
to love or loyalty, for we are two
who have no choice but to be true,
tenacious even in our rancor,

we creatures of water and fire
who did not choose each other
but were thrown together, or rather,
chosen and chastened by desire.

Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals and has been selected for inclusion in the Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies. Her first full-length collection Not Elegy, But Eros was published by NYQ Books. Website: www.nausheeneusuf.com