Mortality weighs heavily on me.
—John Keats

Shoulder to shoulder
they call and call to cry,
slide onto the sand,
slack and massive,
their sleek assurance
withering in air.

With our pails
we splash and douse,
the sun pushing back.
We don’t rest,
soaking burlap to wrap
blistered skin, streaming

water over their backs,
keeping airways clear.
Even as motionless hulks mount
we push to prod
each body into buoyancy,
beseech the tide to rise.

First published in Blackwidows Web of Poetry