Thursday, August 30, 2007
A life ago on a winter beach
I saw a woman walking the duff
that marked the gelid water’s reach,
tracking the meander of frozen fluff
that kept the sea from the iced sand,
a narrow passage, but way enough;
all the rest was snow, the land
sculpted by honed talons of air,
an eldritch scape. Hatless, hands
gloved, fisted to a red pair
of bulbous fruits on black stalks,
she was borne on a black wing of hair.
I was under the boardwalk
burning my driftwood, hunched
into heat, safe from the screaming hawk;
she saw my smoke, turned, crunched
up across the glazed snow.
I saw how chapped she was, how clenched
against the cold, yet her steps were slow,
measuring the way. I laid on
the last of the wood, poured some joe
from the thermos, the heat mostly gone,
held it out as she came up.
But she only stood silent, withdrawn
from all but the fire, ignored the cup
to worship at the votary
between us, upright, black as a bishop.
Her eyes were reaches darker than the sea.
I couldn’t guess her age; I knew
she was older, a bit, older than me,
but she wouldn’t be seen; she let me construe
the wisps of steam from her red wool,
her insulated hiking shoes.
Enough, it seems. Recovered, beautiful,
my blackbird started for the beach,
drained my heart, left it full.