Kevin Prufer

Helicopter Wreck

See the long islands—ochre, cliff-rippled, wrinkled as scabs,
      their pine tips
scratching the pink sky? No motor boats today. The bay sinks
into its silence. Mine is the drowned head,
restored. Mine, the tilted-
to-the-low-sun eyes, the gaping, the outstretched, fingers rippling
over, thin skin loosening where the nails begin. I list; my boots

lag behind, or below, currents depending. What can I say, my teeth
salted over, the last of the sun cataracting my eyes? Far below,
the wreck of the helicopter lolls:
lopped rotors, glass bubble caved in, seatbelts shot
and empty now, flapping. My old sunglasses rock in the wet sand
      with the shards.
Either I am an uneventful thing, or I am graceful, or both,

by which I mean I might be sleeping. First I felt a sputter, a lurch,
half audible. Then, the rotors skipped, cracked, and fell past the windows
into the bay. The cockpit filled with smoke,
sweet smoke, as plastic or cinnamon
to the burner is sweet. Then the windows wetted over. I unclipped
the seatbelts, the whole earth tipped. It's been days and hours now.

My new eyes startle me: The black birds lift, one by one, from the tree tops.
See the feathery tufts, the beaks half-gaped, bellies tight, talons tip-to-tip?

Where the bay throws dead fish into the cliff ridges, the flies twirl—
      in each eye
a refracted arc, the black on blue, where water meets air—my uptilted head.

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