One Black Swan (pt 2)
Following a hurricane, on certain ocean shores
gold diggers sift the sands of “coin beaches”
for loose change, and other reclaimed loot
tumbled in slow motion
from shipwrecks bottomed off the coast histories ago.
Bayside here, I was free to plunder other, local treasures
from a thin fresh slice of brief forever,
a cliff exposed anew by a recent hurricane’s
Thanks to this storm the top was off the bottle,
fresh cream now on the top.
The tide was out when I set out,
the beach was at its widest,
offering its full display,
a jeweler’s tray,
a bejeweled virgin,
a field renewed by churning.
New shells and other jumble jingling in the mini-surf
were bright and shiny tumbled gem-like
by the lapidary waves and sand.
Hoary fossils looked like what they were:
pale milky gray or chalky,
deceptively not fragile, yet with true gravitas.
All those higher on the beach, exposed to sun and air,
had shed their glistening elegance,
dulling into lackluster commonplace.
As I walked, the cliff rose on my left.
Here and there along its base a barrier ran parallel,
of pilings, posts and heavy wire
to try to save the land from being stolen by the water;
it was being undermined.
Thrust there by maelstrom,
stormtide flotsam and some denser detritus
had lept the fence or been driven under it.
The beach was strewn with aftermath of chaos
profusely scattered on the sand
along with artifacts and remnants,
things surviving life.
Eventually a danger sign, a posted warning
cautioned me impersonally
to keep a non-itigious distance from the stony wall.
Before too long it seemed some others
didn’t want me here at all
declaring this as private land:
“DO NOT TRESPASS”,
a command without a “PLEASE.”
Nonetheless, I peeked around
to see if I was being peeked at
then did my best to simulate invisibility
and guiltily proceeded
out of their sight, not yet on their mind.
There was no cross-beach barricade;
this was the honor system,
my passage further was a crime scene in the act
without a yellow ribbon.
In careful haste I trespassed my furtive way
toward a bend which, having rounded it,
would put me out of legal sight
except by someone looking down –
unlikely - a very dangerous thing to do.
My attention was drawn downward
toward what the beach revealed.
I couldn’t take in everything at once,
there was so much to see;
the cliff would have to wait.
Despite the animated urging of the old man’s pep talk
My impromptu field trip had caught me unawares.
I’d thought my detour from fishing
would involve a brief round trip on hurried feet
and then back to my intended day .
My name should be Inertia:
however sluggish to begin
I quickly quickened and then accelerated.
I wasn’t satisfied to look;
I had to pick up everything,
touch all that caught my eye,
handle everything of interest, see them closer,
I was more promiscuous than selective;
this kept me very busy.
Caught up in it, it was hard to stop.
I looked a lot before I began to see.
Much bending over later
my back taught me to choose first
and pick up hence.
Observation came to me as I reached out to it.
Learning to take it in I felt much better.
There was always more in front of me;
I didn’t have to make it happen.
Hidden, there it waited, then here it is, apparent.
Here was a shark’s tooth, and there a larger one,
could that be a vertebrae of a mastodon?
Another and another, of this and that, ad infinitum.
Here there have been dragons . . .
Here be their remains.
If this was real - and real it was -
then real they must have been.
This was first flicker of epiphany.
I became acquisitive, embarrassingly so,
fearing that this would go away,
be taken by the wind and tides
or someone greedier than me
before I could return with something to carry it in,
more than hands and pockets, my shirt serving as bag
to take so much treasure home.
This sheer abundance seemed to justify my greed.
I’d need containers next time, burlap sacks and buckets.
I made piles upon the beach and continued gathering.
Now that I worked to harvest them
they took on more weight of meaning.
Nonetheless, ashamed of my rapacity, yet curious about it -
this wasn’t like me -
I thought I’d better redefine my goal, find out if I had one.
Consider patience, I told myself, practice self-restraint,
remember the Passenger Pigeon and the Carolina Parakeet,
but bring bags or baskets next time just in case.
Eventually I tired before I’d plucked enough
(a hopeless task), how much was plenty?