ON NAUSET THE COAST OF ORPHANS

The coast of orphans plays
a game of waves pressing
a code along its body.

We stamp our feet as strongly,
we march as soldiers gambling,
we look to all places slowly
and yet behind our paces comes
the cold erasing hiss of beach.

The sky burns with the blue flight;
gulls scratching the eye of heaven.
We hold our bodies silent as a path
of sea birds slide across a blue sky
into the arms of a lifting wind.

I have a postcard from Chatham;
a whaling rig with the belly torn open,
the yardarms dressed in full white gowns,
the crew chasing the last descending skiff.

A white monster blows off its ballast,
a harpoon lodged within his ribs,
above the monster's gale a man twists;
behind his head the bow of a broken
whaling launch turns in the air.

Overhead the circle of salt flecked
birds drive themselves into a rising breeze.
The first scout pulls away and dives;
his beak cutting through the current.

Like a stone dropped from a tower,
the falling glide scorches the path,
and as the wet blanket of doom
mushrooms up toward the missile's face,
the feathered span arches and comes to
a halt just inches above oblivion.

My footsteps do not follow my progress.
My shadow falls upon an incoming tide.
My friends have scattered up the shore.
My friends are stolen into the sun's face.

I stand in the game of waves pressing.
I hold onto a postcard from Chatham.
The coast of orphans plays its game.
In my hand I watch a still procession.
At my feet a cold tide passes over.

Ron Buck


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