by Cornelia Rohde

My footprints follow me
along the gleaming margin
of the water’s edge,
where stick-legged Sanderlings,
grey-backed, snowy-bosomed,
play tireless tag with the sea.
When I walk close, these small birds
spook ahead to flirt with ocean’s rhythm.
I watch their sprightly spirits
chase the wake of waves
sucked back to bare wet sand.
Staccato bills gobble crabs and worms
stirred in dragging grains.                 .
I’m baffled how they know
just when to turn and run
before incoming scroll of water
buoys them off their feet;
and how, tuned to avian signal,
they rise as one, wheel
across blue depths and vanish,
leaving cross-stitches of their tracks
in patterns on the shoreline,
where the abiding tide sweeps away
all traces of their marks and mine,
joining us to the sea without intent.


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