the clear blue sky a hovering Narcissus

sets cerulean shapes undulating the whole estero

winking the sun  seducing my eyes   sweet waters from the land

pulsing into salt ocean  slipping its way onto the land   I sit on one bank

looking across  wobbling yellow slits tight to this shore    reflect cliffs

behind me   opposite   shade shines down liquid black   sandy shore and open

water giving way   to dazzling light in action

dark underwater blues   deeper browns to fertile marsh


brown pelicans fly low  fall in akimbo  tripping over feet out taut

large floating group  some drop half-folded wings  loose skin cups  air against

water   not piston-swimming white pelicans herding fish   this a rhythmic applause

varied, playful   stops for silence   fellow pelicans take up a new patterned patter

making a community music  none feed, listening to each other’s versions—plaintive cry

a gull’s—pierces a long pelican pause   leaving rings of room  around its sound

more pelicans splash in, their own are clapping back   more gulls  kee-een into the

next rest   pelicans wait and syncopate clap-cuba-tap-africa   gulls scree-ee

each species receives the other’s new offering   never in my thirty years here

over the minutes, the hour   the numbers and sound expand   birds

hundreds, a thousand   their mass louder penetrating   gull chorus shrieking

pelicans slapping    raucous cacophony   pushing out all silence,

enveloping me   unease replaces my relaxed wonder   mind

taken from me I turn my body away

a skinned stick rosy hint of sunset dancing on it

bright towers waver  from now golden

cliffs on the other side about my time

to leave   I notice from the quiet

time has moved on so have

the pelicans and gulls   I am

only soft again   a fresh-

feathered first-year curlew

in the landscape   a

waterborne gull makes

wake swimming toward me

winds and currents push west

toward the sea, the sun at the end of day

massed wavelets bunch higher  shift shadows, turn darker

I look back to the east the water is calmer oddly more filled with light farther

from the sun. a distant invisible fountain pouring upward tiny scintillations

here the sun is closer    streaming directly at me    begins to look night

all around    a paralyzing beam’s dark halo   the known world so

close and closing  only the tkk’ings of a bushbird   a bee

bumbling for gold    come across  on the still  air


by Jen Sharda

Jen Sharda lives in the San Francisco Bay Area—its fine community of poets, easy access to nature, and liveliness in the arts nourishes her writing. Her work is forthcoming in Forge, Marin Poetry Center Anthology and Spillway. She attended Squaw Valley Community of Writer’s in 2014 and has attended the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference since 2010, working with Jane Hirshfield, Major Jackson, and twice with Arthur Sze. Jen joined David St. John’s Cloud View Poets classes in 2013. Jay Leeming and Carolyn Miller were early teachers.

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