In this ancient way
the Permian, fish-coated, flower-hatted,
small plastic bags filled with sandcombing
treasure thrown up by a sea seething with
plesiosaurs and crest-skimmer pelicans.
They are a color study in smiles thrown out
in two nets that reel us in as we stop to ask
what they’ve found. Over coldbitten fingers
stained black by the indelible tars of living,
one of them holds up her open bag to show us.
“Some nice shells here,” she says, “a good
day on the beach, look—even some seaglass,”
as we nod our heads in carousel pony approval
to whinny our admiration at such favoring
fortunes under dark, umber-gilded clouds.
The other begins to tell us how long they’ve lived
here in this tiny beachtown, their beacon smiles
the only sun we’ve seen all day, the both of them
utterly invisible to everyone else that stream past
us to get what little the remainder has to offer.
The four of us speed through the Ages to arrive
where we are, the way iguanas race across rock
spalted by relentless evolution and the persistence
of things settled just enough to inhabit this lifetime,
the one we find ourselves in now, here, together.
As we turn to continue our walk, they drop
goodbyes in slivers of disposition seasoned by
summers gone into carryless sacks we didn’t know
we had, small treasures of what it means to be
alive now, here, with them, in this ancient way.
November 20, 2014