Though wide, the entrance, overgrown
briars and sea grass, sparks my interest
as I cross the parking lot and worry
if I have the right shoes on today.
Several bay breasted and northern waterthrush
flit here and there as I approach; a giant
I must seem to the smallest of these
I am the only human on the trail now.
The air, fresh with puffs of salt spray,
causes me to breathe deeply,
to wonder about beauty and mortality.
Each bend brings clarity of the surf’s song,
and I find myself singing, as Whitman did–
A song of myself, harmonizing life’s trials
and triumphs in one solitary chorus of endurance.
As the trail opens to the sea,
the vastness of the coastline overtakes me.
I alone am as insignificant as the sand grain,
no more powerful than the driftwood.
But I did not come this way
to realize the temporary nature of life.
I came to see the endangered plover,
to imprint the image on my mind.
Those shortest spells that stay
forever with us are but seconds
in a lifetime of unremembered moments
strung together along the trail of our lives.
For Whitman for Frost for Homer,
the journey becomes more than the destination.
But naturally, nothing profound happens as I walk back
to my car ploverless, unless I count the cardinal,
all red and puffed up with pride, who looks
at me and smiles that knowing songbird smile.