Wind and Water
Swimmers sink and surface between the waves.
From where I sit on the hot sand, deposits
of water glitter in overturned shells
with hints of mother-of-pearl, a smell of salt.
The waves plunge and break over the beached rocks.
Sea gulls dive, bank and rise through a spray and
of liquid garnets, jade and emerald mists.
Brief rainbows wash their wings in amethyst
until they turn, riding prevailing winds
down the shoreline. I follow one gullís course
his figure shrinks to a black bead, then rolls
down the horizonís blade and disappears.
His flight from here to that vanishing point
seems like a time and distance beyond measure,
the long sweep of his wings lost in a perspective
where my thoughts begin to founder and drift.
Turning back to the waves, their rise and crash,
their beating each other down, blue-green clarity
broken into frothing obscurity, Iím struck
to find this violence so reassuring,
so calming. Sitting here, itís sensible
that Heraclitus found permanence in this.
As durable as marble, intricately
textured as an agate, the water shifts
like lava flow, a geologic flux,
confluence of crude stone hammered against
our jetties into gems with instant polish.
What works, these undulating jewels, the jade
and diamond of our thoughts. These are the names
we give each other, these the old desires
for knowing the self, our age and origin.
They both sustain and stanch us, hold forth,
draw back, remake and offer up again
a heritage of yielding rock in which
the swimmers poise and dive, playfully tugging
at someoneís feet, meeting their knowing eyes
below the surface. Then, rising in time
to more than time, long glassy streamers trailing
down their backs and shoulders, drawing hands
through their glistening hair, they pause together.
Overhead the sea gulls circle and dive,
their white wings flashing emerald as they turn,
flying down the shoreline, fading and fading
into the horizon, flying so far,
flying so long as there is wind and water.
Michael T. Young
Transcriptions of Daylight, Rattapallax Press,
© 2000. Reprinted by permission of the author.