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,
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
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 this 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
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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