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 bird we call Grebe
In drab plumage. He struggled out of the rising edge of the sea
He knows so well.
He stopped below a beached and weathered
Log and sat silently, awkwardly and alone
On the cobbled, clacking shore.
Between sea and stone.
Two of my kind walked past
Without even noticing
That he was there.
I moved closer,
An arm’s length away.
I looked into that fierce red eye
And watched as his back
Rose and fell
In short resigned breaths.
I noticed broken flesh below his wing
Though I was too timid to touch
Him, worried that my
Touch would only make things worse.
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 in the tiny flecks of body
That make up plankton
And shell fish
And grebes’ red eyes.
This grebe, on the edge
Of the ocean he knows so well,
An ocean that incessantly
Speaks with the rocks
Beneath his wounded wings,
Stares at the coming fog of that dark ocean
Death he may not fully grasp.
And I, I sit stone still at the edge of the world and just listen.