Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Machinery of the World


Sixty degrees in the not so late afternoon. Another benchmark surrendered to time when we were – what? Doing something else? Not watching? Would it have mattered if we were?
You need a jacket, or some other layer, before you go outdoors. The wind comes straight off the ocean, you can smell it. So it’s a chilly, though stunning day when you go to walk the marsh path. In the sun-filled stretches it’s still summer, and I go here to feel the sun on me. Too warm in my sweatshirt, but I leave it on. In the places exposed to the sea breeze it’s chilly, and on the still shady places the path feels like another country, the land where night comes in the afternoon, and night is another word for winter, a country I have not visited in a long time.
           
            Almost nothing stirs. Small brown birds; don’t know what kind they are. They flock in one of the thickets and when I approach, -- fighting my way through the overgrown marsh elder and other tall weedy things that swallow the way, linking branches over the top to protect their roots’ expansion below --  they raise a shout and flurry, cutting paths through the air like a posse of rabbits scattered by a fox. I am the predictable, path-walking tooth-less fox, the last pedestrian. The path will close over me one day.
            No large creatures. I see the great white egrets again, but they are not near enough to be surprised anywhere in the places where the path allows me to intrude. They are on the opposite sides of my waters. Some near the water gate that lets the tide from harbor race under the bridge into the marsh. I saw four white leaning figures there last week, two today. I see more on Black Cove this afternoon, too far to photograph.  
            The sunset comes before seven p.m. The shadows are unusually dark. They are eloquently dark. The sunset color dims brilliantly in the fading twilight. From safe haunts  indoors it’s all very stirring and autumnal. Very moving; strange.
            It grew warm last week, with sultry beer and ice cream sort of days; so a day like this is a bracing, startling change.
            In the marsh the goldenrod has flowered.
            The machine of the world keeps rolling. Is it glad that someone is watching?


The Machinery of the World

Formed of porcelain light
High blue skies
Chalky thumbnail of a moon at four o’clock
Salt wind off the water turning the gears on September
Four great white egrets lean over the flats like open parentheses
A smatter of small birds scatter at my approach,
More in pleasure than in fear,
As if rehearsing their parts in a play called “Timid Little Things”
Marsh elder, annually resurgent – my brother, my rival – leans over the path
All the goldenrod in the world fills my purse
The machinery of the world keeps rolling
Does it need our love to grease the wheels?