Photo by tadah/Pixabay
POEM by Sarah C. Harwell The seals returned from near extinction to rest and brood on a J-shaped brooch, fastened, a mile long and a few feet wide, to nothing stable, a breach that interrupts the sea, that ceaseless and unworried sloshing— if you wear your glasses underneath you can see what the sea is wearing— claws and weird blooming things and tiny fish flurrying like exploded flowers— giving rise to words like marl and bight and others that you rarely say, unsure of meanings— but under there you understand you don’t belong to that which causes light to split into streams, a fish out of water, and so retreat to shore to watch the seals who slip in and out mooing, grunting, clapping their flippers, hundreds of their black, wetted heads popping out of the water, staring at us, friend and foe, the landed daughters and sons of amoebas who chose the trees and air and breeze and walked away from that which isn’t solid and when it rains, as it did today, feel closed in and snug and cared for. There is something to be said for seeing that which can kill you— unlike a seal who slides in and out of danger, unaware of the shark who, with no warning music, no crunch or rustle or baying, rises from so deep a place you didn’t know it existed— and when it strikes the seal deflates— gallons of blubber oil becalm the water and seagulls pick at the tasty bits, while half the time the seal slides out of that toothy darkness—too fat and slippery for the jaws to pierce—and swims off bleeding into the sea which turns all our excretions back into sea. Staring at them staring at us, we who trekked the mile on sand—years ago we wanted them dead, called them thieves—and even now grumblings have begun, you stink, you bring the shark, you’re greedy, stealing down our cod. But to see you plopped down on sand, odd amalgams of grace and gracelessness, gives the sundown sky a lighter color, and we watch in confusion— are you a pest or is it true you’re part us as in the old legends—your faces appear so kind— your eyes so curious—we feel, yes, feel you’re one of our children— rocks, sea, seals, sand, the turnings of what we love, we hate, and the short cycles between them.