A Dying Grebe

A Dying Grebe January 29, 2019

At the bottom of a steep flight of stairs that lead into the ocean,

Between a sandy cliff and the lapping tide,

I caught a red eye among the logs and silent stones.*

*Silent until the tide teaches them to speak.

I walked to the end of a small jetty and looked back at the amphitheater of the eroding cliffs.

The eye belonged to a small grebe in drab plumage that struggled out of the rising edge of the sea she knows so well.*

*My sea is her land, my land is her sea.

She stopped below a log and sat silently, awkwardly and alone on the cobbled, clacking shore.*

*That incessant syncopated chatter between sea and stone.

Two of my kind walked past her without even noticing that she was there.

I moved closer, an arm’s length away.

I looked into that fierce red eye and watched as her back rose and fell in short resigned breaths.*

*An eye searching me for danger.

I noticed broken flesh below her wing though I was too timid to touch her—

Worried that my touch would only make things worse.*

*Worse like the conflicted pain of being with someone and knowing that I            might hurt them more than heal them.

I sit and watch water that is endlessly rising and receding,

Chattering with rocks that do not care if they live or die because they will always be alive.*

*Alive in the tiny flecks of body that make up plankton and shell fish and            seals and herring and clams and eagles and grebes’ red eyes.

This grebe, on the edge of the ocean she knows so well, an ocean that incessantly speaks with the rocks beneath her wounded wings,

Stares at the coming fog of that dark ocean death she may not fully grasp.

I take a final look, feel a pang of sadness for the way of the world, say a prayer for that fierce red eye, and start to walk back toward those steep stairs on rocks that do not care if they live or die.

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