Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jack Scott writes

One Black Swan (pt 4) 

Back up a beach is always further;
U-turn of every journey even that from reverie.
I wasn’t in a hurry, it wasn’t getting late, 
but I’d come quite a distance;
my legs and neck were feeling it.
Though not a worry, the tide was coming in.
Wavelets lapping at my toes;
I’ve had wet feet before.
I started heading back relieved
to be staring other ways than down around my feet.
As the beach shrank smaller there was less and less to see. 

I paid more attention to the Bay now on my left.
A parade of vessels of motley flags and sizes 
steamed their steady passages in the shipping channel:
container carriers, tankers, freighters, Coast Guard craft,
some tugs and barges, and many others . . .
I didn’t see a cruise ship; it was a good day for one:
clear, bright and warm, Bahama like
with the slightest breeze, just enough to ruffle water,
but not so much you’d miss a rockfish jumping.
Fishing boats buzzed and drifted here and there
and sailboats butterflied their ballet upon their stage
slicing the water like Great White’s fins.
Fishing birds were busy fishing,
others somewhere singing, tweeting.
Dragonflies darted here and there.
Upon the cliff’s brow overhung a drapery of trees and vines. 
The sky was high today.  

The cliffs now took on priority. 
I now risked walking close, sometimes closer
where they weren’t undercut.
I was free to feast my eyes and curiosity
underfoot and overhead within my reach
to see what I could newly find ’mongst all this oldness.

So much rain had made the cliff unstable, looser;
some of it freshly fallen. 
It loomed, threatening death and burial in one efficient stroke,
but on I came chancing both the cliff and risk.
Landslides could happen, stone avalanches, 
vertical becoming horizontal in a swift crash.
A skull-sized chunk could crush a skull.
Climbing could, of course, prove fatal.
I am careful, not a fool; I’ll take the odds of lightning.
Skirting without climbing satisfied my purposes,
whatever they might be. 
I wasn’t courting mishap or tragedy.
Let’s call it curiosity.
I mustn’t fall in love with out-of-reach rewards.
I didn’t try to search too high, chance undue temptation.
As with some pretty women this a case of was look, don’t touch, 
and subdued adrenaline; this place was rattlesnaky.

Also commonsensibly, I had no tools, no bag or basket, 
no ways or means for more. 
I saw the now familiar from a fresh perspective
foetally embedded in its mother matrix, not yet fully born.
The surface was irregular to the hand and eye.
There were bands within it, tilted waves of gritty ribbons
nearly parallel with each other, but not so with the water -
a giant Smith Island cake dropped and left right where it landed.
Between the stony layers ran more sandy veins, 
soft enough to scratch into with my bare hand.
Someone daft or rash enough to gouge footholds
into these yielding layers
might build the kind of lethal ladder angels would decline.
It was the kind of escapade that might appeal to me,
thirty years before,
but not enough to do it now.

As I proceeded, 
I had a really good look to see if there was anything
I hadn’t noticed from the beach,
something different from the sharks’ teeth
and maybe-looking bones
and shells, shells, shells and more shells,
seashell path to prehistoric sea.
I’m sure I missed a lot through my inexperienced eye.
Much in the museum had looked to me
like undifferentiated stone just like other stones,
but for the fact that they were labeled bones. 
I shopped for anomaly, unfamiliarity. 
I didn’t know the names of what I did see
but wasn’t much concerned with that.  
I didn’t feel the need to know them yet,
those little flags of ownership armchair explorers plant
on newfound, foreign shores to claim them as their own,
anchoring them as namesakes in absentee possession.
I kept seeing more and more of nothing different
but tried to wean myself from complacency or haste
before my eyes glazed over.
This was a job I gave myself without a job description
so, while I’m here, I’d do it.
That is how I fish and that is why I catch them.

I touched far fewer things,
bending over as little as I could because I ouched a lot .
Unwisely multi-tasking, I strained to focus
without breaking stride at a quickened pace 
till staring stung my eyes, a bad habit riding on my back.
I had been accelerating for no good reason;
I didn’t want to miss a thing.
I sat down again and eased my eyes,
let them go soft and blurry
let my vision go on autopilot where it’s often at its best.

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