The two boats tied together
One, a station
where we capture
in columns of figures
the screeching pumping mindless cacophony
of migrating seabirds,
a seething funnel that billows from horizon bead
and fans through the straits.
A drifting bunkhouse
to flop and doze and read,
or lie on belly and gaze listless out port'les
over viscous water
Coffee perks in the galley
Warms endless restless games of cards and cribbage
atop gouged and greasy plywood drop-down table
catch up on rumors,
reminisce past years of birds and bird counters.
Shifts on the last quarter hour
On tongue flat deck,
Binoculars fixed, shouting numbers to the scribe:
"10,000 Red Knots"..."173 Sanderlings"..."5,510 Golden Plovers"... "My God, I can't keep up when these flocks piggy-back like that!... Hey, did someone get those Willets over there!"
Southern horizon belches ribbons of pumping winging flesh that zenith over as they roil northward, over the glassy neap tide, rainbow sherbet sky and sea, moist cold searing our fingers as we fumble gazing instruments, beat fingers to keep them alive, first one hand then the other until the time keeper calls our retreat and we retire to cabin for the next quarter hour bedecking.
And I remember the other boat
Where he and I slipped away—
to show me his creation,
We sat on a soft pad
atop the motor box
in the cozy bridge cabin
And as he laid me back
his eyes blue wild,
the nameless birds pumping, summoning
I put away my books and pens and binoculars
and learned to read the sky.
And I bring my life-mate
Back to the flyway booming ground
The Annual Seabird Festival
with its birding experts
dignitaries, parades, and
dinner-cruise around the Sound.
But there are no birds this year
The sky is open and quiet and calm except for buzzing mayflies
and an occasional sandpiper,
peeping, gavotting lonely across the mud
It is warm—hot even
They say we have missed the straggling descendants of the billowing pumping clouds of wings
by a week
So we eat the sourdough flapjacks and gravy
Nose around the tiny historical society gallery
ask surreptitiously about him;
even his death is an enigma.
Then the dinner-cruise
we laugh over cocktails
and at the birdcall contestants
And I squeeze back aching tears that jerk out
As our bloated puker slogs home
Past the beacons and point markers
of those days with him
and his Bowpicker
and the sea and the birds and the sky.
Later, we join the parade,
Wave silly gull signs up and down as we march
And close the Annual Seabird Festival.