One Black Swan (pt 1)
Despite the testimony
of my senses
theory rules the stage
and disciplines imagination.
How should it feel
My first time there, a happening by chance,
a roadside sign, an impulse
on my way to fishing further down the road,
a turnoff ending at the water and there, a house,
one room of which an improvised museum,
a menagerie of body parts of once living things
long dead, shadows of their former substances
now consigned to picture books.
On the walls and in the cases,
fragments of the common and the extraordinary
predators and prey,
teeth and bones and “footprints”
of these and other remnants
of smaller forms of extinct life:
clam and oyster shells, barnacles and coral.
The proprietor - collector, custodian and warden -
would let you touch things as long as he was watching.
This was his home, his hobby and his livelihood.
There was a charge to enter and enjoy
(less than for a movie).
Before and after you were free
to prowl the beach and prospect.
Included was a map, but would it be needed?
How could you fail to find the beach you’re on
or get lost once there?
Rustic, clean and neat:
hand lettered captions,
brochures without hype
and the old man’s stories.
This was his culmination,
obviously his favorite things
in which he took a raconteur’s delight.
Impressive to my ignorance,
he opened up his world to me.
I chose to spend some time exploring it.
He urged me on, warning of the cliffs:
don’t get too close or try to climb them;
some have died in the attempt.
Stick to the beach and surf,
you’ll find lots of fossils there
shed by the precipice,
churned clean by the waves.
Help yourself to what you find,
it’s yours there for the taking.
This was so new to me;
I’d driven past a hundred times
without knowing it was there.
I felt childlike starting out.
Here was a candy store, a Christmas morning,
a cornucopia, a portal into wonder.