I look upon the ancient, mortal sea
and find that it has settled to a lake
this afternoon. There aren’t any waves,
but gentle rollers on which ocean birds,
confused, just bobble all along the shore,
awaiting changes in the veil of light.
I’m witnessing a strange unfiltered light,
that partially obscures the quiet sea
along the apex of the Jersey shore
and answers back, an echo from a lake
where living things, especially the birds,
wait nervously in these translucent waves.
Eternity is mirrored in the waves
when everything is washed like this in light,
and nature pauses tentative, and birds,
in silence, wait until the flattened sea
emerges from its plane of summer lake
along these seams of zinc-encrusted shore.
I’m sitting by myself, the sand and shore,
the water, and the light shift slowly, waves
suggest the nightsong of a summer lake.
This time I understand you’re dying, light
escaping from one hundred years, the sea,
your clouded memory, like sheets of birds.
My fingers in the sand, I watch the birds
who seem so strangely lost upon the shore,
who look toward the land and not the sea,
who seem to look to me, who ride the waves
that swell like final breathes in open light,
whose stillness makes the sea appear a lake.
I’ve spent near fifty summers on the lake
and you, one hundred years an ocean bird,
our observations varied as to light,
the sound of water pulsing on the shore,
the magnitude of summer and of waves,
for mine were of the lake, and yours the sea.
But now the sea is strangely like a lake,
its gentle waves supporting silent birds
that hug the shore and disappear in light.