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by Laura Parker Roerden


The reeds are awakening in a dawn of haloed light. Morning has risen
and is lined by low tide at the edge of the marsh, where gulls

are already signaling I am late; late to the riotous exposure of
mussels and clams and polychaete worms; late to the stars that have somehow

squeezed as if through a curtain and are unfurling in symmetry and colors
impossible to name. For just at the moment I understand a hue,

it is gone, lost forever. The wheel is always turning at this edge of the sea.
Sand is now exposed as sheen in the low light reflecting gathering clouds.

A herring gull dives toward the sand like an acrobat, but at the very last
minute, veers skyward with a green crab in her beak. The crab is no more,

or less than the gull; the sand and sky holds the moment as if in a light box.
At the edge of the marsh water flirts with light where a piebald brown bird

drags behind a broken wing like too much baggage. This bird
is scavenging the contents of a small styrofoam container.

The other gulls gather and crowd the injured bird out, flying away
with some fries and pieces of bun. I pick up the container and notice

pieces of styrofoam are missing where beaks have left behind tiny
pockmarks. But the bird is preening beneath his wings and tail,

as if nothing has happened; the tide now covering everything left behind
in a sleight of hand. The gulls have moved on and are patrolling above where the

surf breaks. The sun now a flat disk in a suddenly featureless sky.
It’s as if a dream has rolled in, where things exposed

are now hidden and those unknown now seen. I half expect
to see the broken bird fly aloft on gunmetal waves of power and momentum.

©Laura Parker Roerden. All rights reserved.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd.

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