Nineteen Species of Sandpipers


And if you count the sanderling, exactly the number

I saw on the beach at Duck, seven at the water, feeding,

twelve in a line along where the tide had ended, watching.

One of those accidents of timing that greets the very nature

of artifice, the way William Debrae, my great- grandfather,

taught me the art of the kite at the edge of the ocean at

Kitty Hawk or at the edge of a lake that looked to me

like a sea, who had bought his last school-teacher

bicycle from the Wrights in Dayton at the beginning

of the twentieth century, and who was born before our

Civil War and knew survivors of the War for Independence.

Nothing is disconnected, the numbers plotted, cause and effect,

persons, places, things that seem so arbitrary, until you think

about the man standing at the dead end of the pier waving his arms.