Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Stacks


Fog clinged like a cobweb
to that couple miles of coast
near Kalaloch,
as we reaped the honied days
of Indian Summer,
and carried our picnic
out onto the grassy bluff
above the beach;
while you explained to the girls
how the mishapen tree giants
created their burls.

Munching our turkey sandwiches
we were drawn
to the sibilance
of the surf;
never tiring of the eternal drama
of waves,
and pounding onto a beach,
where sea salt, kelp,
and empty shells were sprinkled
on the gray-brown sand
like seasoning;
adorned with bleached
twisted piles
of driftwood snakes,
and ships of war;
bent around each other
like Holocaust victims
in their killing pits,
only pausing
for petrification,
awaiting our pliant fingers
to pluck them,
rub them,
and transport them inland
to reside
within the sweetness
of our garden.

But nothing could have prepared me
for the naked exhilaration
of my first glimpse
of Ruby Beach;
with its steep trail dropping fast
through a thick fringe of forest,
forging a path further
through massive mausoleums
and headstones of wood,
transitioning first to large gravel
and then pea gravel
and then the slick black of its sand;
girdled with tall jagged cliffs
that have wide crevices running
making their edges resemble
stone hands
with fat granite fingers extended
to heaven;
with caves and bore-holes
carved by the sea
at their mossy bases.

All magnificent,
yet nothing
and pale
when compared
to the rock fists
that were
the sea stacks;
thrusting up out of the wet sand
like great towers,
dotted with sea grass
and small trees
that were wind-bent
like old dwarfs,
and covered with clouds
of nesting gulls.

Magical places
where the fury of the ocean
had not quite finished clawing
at the cliffs,
leaving those incredible monoliths
standing alone,
off shore
in ragged squads
up and down the coast.

But my very best moment,
banished from fog,
bathed in the sun
of that golden afternoon
was watching you
along the neck
of that black beach,
still slick with the wetness
of outgoing tide;
silhouetted tiny
against the bulk
of the largest sea stack;
beneath a tall rock
where a lone fisherman stood
like a cardboard cut-out,
grasping his saltwater pole,
with the sun's rays dancing
around him on the water.

You stopped,
as you considered dashing
between the receeding waters,
and then decided
against it.

In that frozen instant,
perched like a turtle
on my blanched log,
as I stared at you,
I began to understand
why you love the ocean
so much,
and I felt grateful
that you let me share
that spiritual bond
that day
on that beach;
and I flushed hot
as I felt my love for you
even more.

Glenn Buttkus 1993

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