IN THE NEW YEAR
The holidays done with, I can breathe again. January 1st is always like
an endless rolling pasture of pristine snow, acres completely unmarked
but for a chickadee’s delicate scrimshaw, a pure field on which I can hike
into happiness, love, a clean path, without the torques my life usually takes:
this time, things will be different. Bright blue high tide makes a little lake
of the inlet. I sit on the bank and smooth out a new page in my notebook.
A Laughing Gull hovers over the sea wall, a dripping clam clenched in his beak,
letting fall the shell which breaks open when dropped from a height onto rock.
He caws proudly, struts, circling his prey in yellow, pigeon-toed feet, picks
jerkily at the salty belly. Above us, a wheeling falcon waits, eyes unerring, black.
Then, fast as a feathered shaft, he gouges the gull’s foolish white neck,
the hawk’s jaw and pincer-grip talons killing the bird in one lethal shake.
Bloody feathers fly, some of the wound striping my hair and book. I shriek,
leap up to slap off the gore, appalled--shell-shocked that nature could break
in upon my reverie on nature. Suddenly, the marsh seems malevolent, dark
with a darkness I’ve never felt here, the phragmites nodding by the dock
as if to say, what did you think? Sudden pellets of snow are unendurable. I duck
into my collar, complicit, for home, the carcass lying broken as the indigo dusk.