Up in the Hills, Down at the Shore

Just above the water line, the hunters build a labyrinth from white stones, open to the sea and spiraling landward. Rice they scatter on either side, a quarter mile in each direction, to baffle and amaze, to burn the feet of the unwary. They settle in their blinds, grow still, and wait.

At dusk the sea shapes itself into a score of figures and walks inland, blank-faced and gigantic. It shuffles up the beach, clawing sucking furrows in the sand that crumble and fill with water. The rice channels it toward the white stones; it cannot understand the wide curves, the sudden change of direction. The bodies the sea has made of itself were not built for reversals, for detours, for ambiguities and delays.

In the center it growls and paces, hunting for an opening that does not exist, one that will take it to the farms and fields of the coastlands. The morning finds it still hunting, trapped by stones that do not reach halfway to its knees. Its creatures fall silently to the ground, their skin bubbling away from elephantine bones. The hunters come down from their columns, and pick their way across the stones, bags open and ready.