In March I had a week of travel around French Polynesia’s Society Islands. I didn’t get into island or ship life, certainly not the way Capt. Cook or Marlon Brando did. More perplexing, I came up short on photo ops. Too many possibilities looked like calendar shots. That said, here are mine.
A clacking seagull
Raised his scissor beak to the sky.
His shrill cut the silence of the sea.
You and I stood beneath the blue and saw
A sunny bank across the bay.
The sea lapped a wooden pier,
Green foam circled, then vanished.
Hooks were baited, lines were tossed
Flounder ran and fishermen waited.
Hopes were high as flat
Brown-speckled fish swallowed hooks.
Along the sandy pebbled beach,
Colored stones and shells hid beneath
The crush of booted feet.
You and I stood watching the silent scene,
As if intruding, we stepped into another’s dream.
The scene seemed done in black and white,
A woodcut carved by crafty hands.
Yet we knew the hues were plainly there.
A deceiving trick hung over us.
The sassy gull cried again,
Announcing intruders to the group
Of silent, patient men.
Life’s second-hand paused a moment
To let us pass.
We wandered on another path,
Passed wind-bent bony scrub
Crushing clam shells as we stepped
To reach the point of Barnegat Light.
Its splintered wooden doors shuttered
With metal bolts and bars, held secure
To a lock chained from within.
Did he know we stood waiting?
Only a speck on the horizon’s edge
Would stir the keeper’s curiosity.
A bronze bust faced the lighthouse doors.
A man who loved the sea, his face turned
Inward from wind, light, and distant bar.
He was guardian of the bolted doors.
Fresh winds blew the clouds away.
Shadows deepened in the bright,
As light dissolved to orange, blue, and gray.
You and I laughed and tossed in sandy folds
As the wind watched and waited,
Then quickly hid our scattered prints.
We did not sadden to see our traces taken.
Gusts of wind cannot claim
The gifts of joy from a summer sea.