Listen to a podcast of this poem here.Under white cloud mountains as stiff as meringue
the shore pulled away, me in a daze
of life. The windowed, curving mansion on the dune
emptied itself onto the air.
Two little stints ran and stopped, ran
and stopped, in the thin shine at the water’s edge,
their bills the gauge of what is well,
what is continuous, their black feet whirring
in the same motion of the paddleboat
thumping by with tourists,
whose wind-distant voices tipped
the horizon like sails flitting
in a sudden, subtle flap.
The sandpipers must have found
their bugs, or maybe tiny shelled
beings that I take for quartz.
Ahead of me they darted, then bowed
in a moment’s snowy bite, and again
the quick black feet motored along.
I felt blind
to everything but feeling, a human without
the sense of a beast, loping into nothing,
out of nothing, chasing shore birds
in a slow wade, my legs an ache
of sand-walking, my body fresh but tired
from swimming, where something had washed
away, and something had returned,
though I could not say what it was.
Of a sudden, they flew up and arced
behind me, to where we had already walked,
to the somethings I had not seen, the things
I had forced them to pass over too quickly,
but in all their lightness, they knew
awaited them in their brief and patient life.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Andreas Trepte, more beautiful bird photos