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Rock River Poetry Contest selection
At Three Arch Cape
Oceanside, Oregon. 7 a.m.
Low tide and empty beach.
Even the mist incandesces below
Three Arches, their peaks
like primitive gods. A faint rainbow
forms around them perfectly
like a shrine. Last weeks measured life
with its compromises
like broken sand dollars, leaves.
On the great redwoods limb
now bleached bone-gray, our initials: CS/ JS.
Who would guess a couple married
a quarter of a century, lapping
into the millennium? Still, today I walk alone,
head farther down my favorite inlet,
past the familiar shanties
and new condos rising: misguided
fortresses that trespass shifting dunes.
No matter what-I still return,
and when I round the bend to Netarts Bay,
the entire village, old and new,
is fodder for the fog pierced only by pelicans.
High hum of wind and gulls shriek.
Pelicans dipping. I have turned myself
into the pelican: a body large but porous,
shrewdest beak that eats and stores.
The poets mouth. Today this beach
with its shells and parables is my companion,
and you, drinking coffee, reading newspapers.
Youre earthbound. Im tides and fog.
Only give me these dreamy mornings to keep.
Let me sit again on burnt driftwood,
my back against a dune, sing again the prayer
that ends with sanctus, sanctus.
The waves sizzle and stretch,
and I stretch too, arching upward,
arms open. Let the ferocious winds billow
under my big blue jacket, though I never quite
lift off. Who does? It is enough each year
to count myself among the lucky,
plucking perfect agates and holy ghost money
from sand, fill big pockets with grit.
And you in your blue stocking cap
and black leather jacket waving.
Winner of the Hal Grutzmacher Award.