A poem inspired by dawn in Islamorada, Florida
Dawn on an early March morning.
The still, silver surface of the sea
Merges softly with the morning mist,
Confounding the division between earth and sky.
A tropical sun peeps above the sea,
Likes what it sees, and hurries up,
Wreathed in purple, gold and white,
Catching the masthead of an anchored yacht
Swinging lazily in the warm and breathless air.
It's moored by a wooden jetty that stands stark
Against the lightening sky, its flag limp against its pole,
Its palm-leaf shelter redundant
Against a sun whose day has just begun.
All else is misty grey and tranquil.
The creeping tide slackens with the flood,
With not an eddy, swell, or ripple --
Or the faintest gust or drift of breeze --
To break its placid and unruffled calm.
Unusual this, and maybe it portends
Some change in weather and a strengthening wind,
Which cannot change the beauty of this place --
The whitened sand the palms, the exotic flora --
But would transform the atmosphere of peace
I share with nature on this gentle morning.
A sandpiper pecks along the water's edge.
Here is someone with no leisure to reflect.
Then come the pelicans - - comic birds,
Ushering in the business of the day,
Quartering the waterfront for food
And skimming the shallow sea, their wings outstretched.
Splash, plunge, flurry! Splash, plunge, flurry!
Their powerful beaks seize the unwary prey.
Fish heads hang disconsolate from beaks.
Then, airborne in seconds, there they rise,
Swooping, gliding, falling, back and forth
Across the glassy surface of the sea,
A counterpoint to the tranquillity.
Soon men will rise and greet the day,
Their noise and clamour closing out the dawn.
Helicopters, generators, growling, grinding.
Cars and car horns, revving engines, gears,
Strimmers, mowers, arguments and slamming doors,
The cellphone tunes, inconsequential chatter.
Modern man cannot function without toys
That make a constant, reassuring noise.
For you who yearn for silence and for calm,
Join me in my morning meditation.
Rise before the sun; sit with me on the soft, soft sand.
Watch the light and shadow in the coconut palms,
The glint of livid sun on water.
Hear the rustle of the palm leaves.
Don't talk, don't move, just listen.
Listen to the gentle lap of water, the wings of passing birds,
The mild plop of fish in the water,
The sea crab scuttling to its morning meal,
The tide as it inches in,
Moving the seaweed slowly up the beach;
Hear the distant sound of a bird calling its mate;
Listen to the silence and the sounds of dawn.
An early fisherman pop-pops through the mist.
Unknowingly he breaks the spell.
This still, small moment's over. A memory.
Let us depart.