The Quotable

Birds by the Bay

High tide, and the bay

like hammered metal shimmering,

light skimming away for miles,

depth surging landward in swells,

weighing against the shore,

pressing on those poor, slight

spindly-legged birds

whose high-pitched scurrying

peppered the sand at noon;

now they have flitted up

from the drowned beach

to perch on ill-fit stilts

in the lower limbs of cypress,

or huddle like stones among stones;

and above them egrets

wispy as wind-blown scraps

caught up in green-dark branches.


An ocean looms within the bay,

rolls up from distant trenches

deep beyond the shelf;

great stacked boulders,

wet to the brink,

can barely hold it.

Cormorants stretch like arrows into flight,

aiming across continents;

gulls swirl in groups or wait in silence.

And on the air, a strange patrol

traces its glacial arcs, banks and slides

in smooth unison, dark platoon

of pelicans, jagged relics

whose huge span compasses the scene,

aloof, primeval,

more ancient than the people

who are gone from here.



D. R. Goodman, a native of East Tennessee, now lives in Oakland, California, where she is founder and chief instructor at a martial arts school. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Crazyhorse, Notre Dame ReviewSeattle Review, and many others; and in the 2005 anthology, Sonnets: 150 Contemporary Sonnets, from the University of Evansville Press. She is also the author of The Kids’ Karate Workbook from Blue Snake Books.

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The Quotable - Issue 5 "Place"