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Okaloosa
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I like the heron best          because it has no song,flying over the water, its mating

cry mournful, aggressive, and internal.          Seaweed and creamy foam

float on the tide’s restless lapping,licking my feet like a lost dog.          I am no master.

The Gulf collects its own scraps:          rows of hotels

hollowed out and plasteredochre by sunsets, knocked down by Ivanor Dennis—you lose track

after so many seasons.          Mist hangs over shoddy condos.Beachcombers scan the quartz burrowsof ghost shrimp. A drunken couplestumbles somewhere. Before they were expelledChoctaw called this place Okalusa,          “dark water.”

They must have known the land and the body          are complicit in their own decay.Our works turn spindrift in the sea.

A heron lands on a brick and will not move          as I walk past its beak,a crusted ancient weapon. [End Page 11]

What am I to it                              but another animalcompeting for dunes and fish?

The great blue flies off. Calling, callingto its mate. Even with walnut brains they understand. [End Page 12]

Derrick Austin

Derrick Austin is an M.F.A. candidate in poetry at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Assaracus, Unsplendid, Tampa Review Online, Knockout, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals.

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